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This Dodgers broadcaster outlasted Vin Scully

Jaime Jarrín spent his entire 64-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, making a bigger impact on the organization than even Vin Scully.

The three longest-tenured employees in MLB history are all connected with the Dodgers franchise. The longest-tenured is Tommy Lasorda, who spent his entire 69-year career in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Next on the list is Vin Scully, who spent 66 years as the primary voice of the Dodgers and baseball. And third is Jaime Jarrín, who just completed his 64-year career this past weekend. 

Most baseball fans don’t know who Jaime Jarrín is because his work airs primarily on Spanish radio, but even Dodgers fans who don’t speak Spanish know who he is. Vin Scully may have had the voice of God in the city, but Jarrín’s was just as powerful, broadcasting just about every Dodgers game from 1959 onward in a broadcasting career only bettered by Vin. 

For the first time in 65 years, Dodgers game on Spanish radio in 2023 will not have Jaime Jarrín in the booth. It’s a big loss, both for baseball and the city, but Jarrín still stands as a living legend. 

Jaime Jarrín was a broadcasting savant

The most amazing thing about Jaime Jarrín was that he knew nothing about baseball when he took the Dodgers job. 

Jarrín was already a radio savant in his hometown of Quito, Ecuador when he decided to move to Los Angeles in 1955 at just nineteen years old. He joined the radio station KWKW, at the time the only Spanish-language radio station in Los Angeles, and used the experience he learned in Ecuador to become the station’s news and sports director. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, owner Walter O’Malley chose KWKW to transmit Spanish broadcasts, and the station promoted Jarrín to work on the Dodgers broadcasts. But things could have easily not gone that way for Jarrín.

Jarrin in 1959

Like many immigrants, Jarrín took some odd jobs when he first came to LA waiting for a position to open at KWKW. When one finally did, the station worried how his Ecuadorian accent would translate to their mostly Mexican-American audience, so Jarrín trained at a language school to neutralize his accent. And the final blow: Jarrín had never even seen a baseball, much less knew the rules of the game, when the station asked him to take the lead on the Dodgers broadcast in 1958.

It was no matter. The station picked Jarrín because he was bilingual, not because he knew baseball, and so he spent the next year surrounding himself with the game. He listened to Vin Scully on the radio, attended games in the city, and read the newspaper every morning to become an expert. And in 1959, KWKW 1300 kicked off its first broadcast with Jarrín as the play-by-play announcer. The Dodgers won the World Series that year, and Jarrín announced it live to the city’s Spanish-language listeners. 

A baseball broadcasting legend

The Dodgers only started airing Spanish-language TV broadcasts in 2015, meaning that for over 50 years the only place Spanish-speaking Angelenos could follow the Dodgers was on the radio. Jarrín was the messenger, and there wasn’t a more reliable person for the job. 

Between 1962 and 1984, Jarrín broadcasted nearly 4,000 consecutive Dodgers games, only breaking the streak to work on the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. His 22-year streak has only been matched by minor league announcers and the Yankees’ John Sterling, putting Jarrín in an elite broadcasting company. But he would still live in that pantheon even without the streak and the longevity.

Photo credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Jarrín earned the Ford C. Frick award in 1998, putting him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame 24 years before his retirement. He’s also called over 30 boxing title fights, 25 All-Star Games, 25 World Series, major political rallies, and Pope John Paul II’s first visit to the United States. But it’s the work he did with the Dodgers that stands as his greatest legacy.

When Fernandomania swept Los Angeles, Jarrín guided both Fernando as a translator and the city’s Latinos, many of whom were new to baseball but wanted to celebrate their hero. Without Jarrín to narrate Fernando’s rise, it’s likely the Dodgers fanbase wouldn’t look nearly as Latino as it looks today, and it’s likely the Dodgers wouldn’t stand nearly as highly as they do in LA. Vin may have been the more legendary broadcaster, but Jarrín made a greater impact, helping shape the Dodgers into the pillar franchise they are today.

The Dodgers lost Vin Scully this year, but Jaime Jarrín is still around. And as long as he is, we should celebrate his achievements as one of the most important people in the history of baseball.