2017-08-11 / Sports

A dream and a golden voice

Hall of Fame announcer and Acorn sports writer connect over Ecuador & baseball


THE VOICE AND THE SCRIBE—Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Jaime Jarrín, left, talks with Acorn sports reporter Jonathan Andrade before the Dodgers’ July 30 home game against the San Francisco Giants. 
RICHARD GILLARDAcorn Newspapers THE VOICE AND THE SCRIBE—Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Jaime Jarrín, left, talks with Acorn sports reporter Jonathan Andrade before the Dodgers’ July 30 home game against the San Francisco Giants. RICHARD GILLARDAcorn Newspapers My grandmother, Patricia Encalada, isn’t the biggest Los Angeles Dodgers fan.

But it wasn’t uncommon for her in the 1980s to turn the TV channel to the ball game after a long day of hand-painting flowers onto Metlox dinnerware.

After all, what’s more relaxing than listening to the timeless voice of the Dodgers, who was doing some painting of his own, turning majestically descriptive words into mental artwork for listeners.

For many Angelenos in the 1980s, that golden voice flowing from the tube and radio was coming from legendary announcer Vin Scully.

For Encalada, an immigrant who moved her family of four from Ecuador to the United States in December 1979, the pleasant descriptions were coming from Spanish broadcaster Jaime Jarrín.

Jarrín, an Ecuadorian immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1955, is an icon in the Spanishspeaking community. The 81-yearold, who became a member of the baseball Hall of Fame in 1998, has been calling Dodger games since 1959. The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to L.A. in 1958.

When I had an opportunity to speak with the broadcasting legend before the Dodgers-Giants game on July 30, it was like a dream come true for this young sports reporter.

It’s not often I meet someone who was born in the same country as my grandma. An estimated 645,000 Latinos with Ecuadorian roots live in the U.S., according to the 2011 census. Most of those Ecuadorians live on the East Coast.

Ecuador, a small country in South America neighbored by Peru and Colombia, was home to fewer than 4 million people in 1955, and two of them were Jarrín and Encalada.

While they grew up in separate parts of Ecuador, their experience on their journey to becoming American citizens was similar.

Jarrín was born in Cayambe, a small town 40 miles north of the capital, Quito.

“I come from a very close-knit family,” he said. “I grew up on a ranch, so there were lots of horses and cows. It was a nice, peaceful country life.”

His family moved to Quito when Jarrín was 8. He stayed throughout high school and college, where he studied journalism. He got his first taste of broadcasting at age 16 with the radio station HCJB, “The Voice of the Andes.”

At HCJB, Jarrín became close to the American consul of Ecuador.

Jarrín asked for help moving his wife, Blanca, and son, Jorge, who was 6 months old at the time, to the U.S. His family had visas within three days.

“In the ’50s, nobody thought of coming here without papers. Nobody,” Jarrín said. “Everybody that came here came with a visa. . . . In those years it wasn’t that difficult to get a visa.”

Jarrín hopped on a boat in June 1955 and headed to the U.S. ahead of his family while he got things settled in the states.

His first night in the U.S., Jarrín stayed with a former coworker from HCJB, who had moved to California three years earlier. The next day, Jarrín went looking for a place to stay.

“I found a room with a family a little bit west of downtown, on Hoover and 11th streets,” he said. “They charged me $4 a week, including breakfast.”

Jarrín then quickly found a job working night shifts at a factory making metal fences until he could land a gig at the only Spanish radio station in town at the time, KWKW.

He also took morning English classes at Cambria Street School.

Encalada and Jarrín agreed the language barrier was the toughest part of the transition to the U.S.

“I took English (in Ecuador) a few years, but when I got here I was lost,” Jarrín said. “I couldn’t understand it. It was very tough at the beginning.”

Like Jarrín, Encalada also took English classes upon arrival. Along with her classes at Redondo Adult School, she learned the language from watching countless episodes of “I Love Lucy.”

Jarrín finally landed a parttime gig as a newsman at KWKW in December 1955. That position eventually turned into his current role as the Spanish voice of the Dodgers.

“I never applied for the job,” he said with a smile. “I was (covering) boxing then. When the station got the rights (to Dodger games), the owner of the station, Mr. William Beaton, called me and said he wanted me to be one of the two announcers.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Throughout his decades as a broadcaster he’s covered many magical moments in Dodger history. He called Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965. He called every pitch of Orel Hershiser’s record 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988, the last time the Dodgers won the World Series. He was there for “Fernandomania,” when Mexican pitcher Fernando Valenzuela took the world by storm as a rookie in 1981.

He’s also covered some of America’s biggest historical moments, including the funeral of John F. Kennedy and the “Thrilla in Manila.”

Jarrín, who became a U.S. citizen in 1965, is certainly one of the most beloved Ecuadorianborn people in the world. This might sound sacrilegious, but he’s more popular than folk singer Julio Jaramillo, a star throughout South America and Mexico in the 1950s and ’60s.

Jarrín, who calls Dodger games for KTNQ 1020 AM, said he still tries to visit his home country every two to three years.

Fond of “la Sierra,” the mountainous regions of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, Jarrín said he likes to visit Cayambe, Otavalo, Ibarra, Cotacachi, Ambato and Cuenca.

“I’ve been to Guayaquil a couple of times,” Jarrín said of my grandmother’s hometown. “It’s fine, but I like the high mountains.”

That’s where Jarrín and I differ.

I would much rather wander the bustling streets of the coastal city of Guayaquil, the country’s most populous metropolis, nestled along the Rio Guayas. My asthma used to flare up when I visited Quito, which has a dizzying elevation of 9,350 feet, so I refuse to go any higher than Cuenca, which sits 8,400 feet above sea level.

Jarrín’s become known for his patented “Se va, se va, se va, y despidala con un beso!” home run call, which translates to “It’s going, it’s going, it’s going, kiss it goodbye!”

More meaningful to Jarrín is his saying during the final outs of a ball game: “Ya estoy viendo las casitas de mi pueblo. Se acerca a su fin esta jornada,” which means “I can see the homes of my town. The end of the working day is nearing.”

For this diehard Dodger fan, I never wanted my pregame interview with a living legend to end. But, alas, Jarrín’s working day was just beginning.

For a man that’s seen it all, even he couldn’t expect the finish that unfolded in that July 30 game.

In a scenario more suited for a Hollywood script, Kyle Farmer hit a walk-off double in the 11th inning in his first big league at bat, giving the Dodgers the victory and the series sweep over the hated Giants.

It was just another dream coming true at Dodger Stadium.

Email Jonathan Andrade at jandrade@theacorn.com.

Jaime Jarrín in a nutshell

• Jaime Jarrín, an Ecuadorian immigrant who moved to the United States in 1955, has been the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Spanish broadcaster since 1959. • The Hall of Famer received the Ford C. Frick Award, which is presented to the top broadcasters in baseball, in 1998. • Jarrín calls every Dodger game for KTNQ 1020 AM. • The South American was born in Cayambe, Ecuador, less than 200 miles from Patricia Encalada, the grandmother of Acorn sports reporter Jonathan Andrade.

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