This year was supposed to be different.
Longtime Dodgers Spanish radio broadcaster Jaime Jarrín, who was entering his 61st season, was going to call fewer games and stay home more.
Jarrín, 83, planned to be with his wife Blanca and children Jorge and Mauricio more often.
Jarrín’s plans derailed several weeks before the start of the season when Blanca died unexpectedly from a heart attack during a family vacation. She was 85.
“I couldn’t believe it in the beginning, but then reality set with me, and I lost my wife after 65 years of marriage,” Jarrín said, recalling the night she passed.
The Jarríns had been married well before Jaime emigrated to the United States from his home country of Ecuador. Blanca was his everything. When Jarrín was on the road they would talk on the phone. When he returned, she would wait all hours of the night until he walked through the front door.
Without her by his side, Jarrín was understandably lost.
“I didn’t know exactly what to do regarding the season,” Jarrín said. “We had a few more days until my next broadcast.”
It wasn’t until a phone call from legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully that Jarrín gained the clarity he needed on what to do next.
“That was the most beautiful talk I have ever held,” Jarrín said. “He talked to me in such a beautiful way that I will never forget. He told me, ‘Jaime, the only advice I can give you is because of my experience is to go back to work full-time.’”
So, Jarrín did just that. He immediately called Dodgers executive vice president Lon Rosen, who oversees broadcasting, and told him to scrap the original agreement.
“I said ‘Lon, I’m sorry, but forget about the arrangement of me cutting down the traveling. I want to be with the team everywhere because that’s the only way. Otherwise, if I stay home, I will go crazy, really,’” Jarrín said.
The Dodgers were willing to do whatever he wanted.
As the Dodgers put the finishing touches on their seventh N.L. West division title, Jarrín has been there every step of the way. Through every rookie walk-off, every east coast trip and every pitch, Jarrín’s voice has been there providing color for the art on the field.
Looking back, Jarrín says his decision was the right one.
“I am 100 percent sure that it was the right thing to do for my part in order to honor her,” Jarrín said. “She was behind me 100 percent. My longevity is because I’ve had the support of Blanca full-time.”
Still, however, what happens on the field does not often match what is happening in the booth or on the road. Feelings of sadness and loneliness have often filled the silence between the airwaves.
“It was especially very tough for me when I [would] get back home from a road trip because right away comes to my mind the fact that she was always waiting for me,” Jarrín said. “She didn’t go to bed without me. … That has been very difficult for me to assimilate [to].”
While those moments are often fleeting, they are healed by the presence of his son Jorge, who is also a broadcaster for the Dodgers’ Spanish radio network.
“I have been blessed to have my son with me on the road,” Jarrín said.
The father and son have grown closer throughout the season and find as much time in between games to spend time together. They go to lunch together before road games. If the game is quick, they’ll go for coffee afterwards.
Having Jorge around has been a great help, Jarrin says.
“Without that, I don’t know what I [would] have done,” he says. “It was a really tough time, but life has to go on.”
Jarrín is firmly focused on the on-field action. He is also committed to honoring Blanca’s legacy in a more long-term way.
Jarrín established the Jaime and Blanca Jarrín foundation with Mauricio, his other son, leading the way.
The purpose of the foundation is to carry on Blanca’s generous spirit by providing scholarships for Latino students studying the fields of law and Jarrín’s own profession of journalism and communications. The foundation also aims to support athletic programs in the Los Angeles areas as well as provide aid internationally, per its website.
“My wife was extremely generous with people in need,” he said.
Already, the foundation has scheduled its first event, a charity golf tournament in November. He hopes to award its first set of scholarships ahead of the next academic school year. Jarrín intends to remain as involved as possible.
“That’s my goal, to help as many kids, as many students as possible go into higher education,” Jarrín added. “My wife was extremely generous, and I’m sure she is smiling at us, watching us and knowing that we are doing the right thing.”
The goal is to earn as much money as possible in order to reach as many students as possible.
“It’s very expensive to go to college,” he said. “I know many young students are in need of monetary help.”
As Jarrín wraps up another season of his long-standing career, he is unsure if he’ll reach his mentor Scully’s 68 total seasons of broadcasting.
Jarrín says that the Dodgers have told him that he has a lifetime contract with the team. He told La Vida that he is committed to the 2020 season but said that he doesn’t know about going beyond.
“I started with them in 1959, but I didn’t know that I would last this long,” Jarrín said. “It’s because of two things. Because I love what I do. Really, I am in love with doing baseball. And because I had the support of my wife, I was able to stay this long with the Dodgers.”
“As long as the community really accepts my style, accepts my way of doing things, I will stay with the Dodgers as long as my physical condition allows me. … I love what I do. I love to be around my son, my friends, my colleagues on radio and TV. They have been so nice with me.”
The community has continued to support Jarrín. Many fans send him messages of support and love.
“I have received so many accolades, so many recognitions, but the one single thing that really pleases me the most is when I’m walking on the street, I’m going to the supermarket, I’m going to a restaurant and people approach me and they tell me, ‘Mr. Jarrín, we love you because my grandfather used to follow you. My grandfather used to take me with him to the ball games because he was always listening to you,’” Jarrín said.
Others tell him their mothers fell in love with the game because of his broadcasts.
“That really pleases me the most. I feel so great, I feel like a giant when I hear those comments,” he said.
Those who have not spotted Jarrín at home or on the road have since sent their messages via social media, something that Jarrín has noticed.
“I received so many messages from places that I never dreamed of visiting. It is fantastic,” Jarrín said. “I don’t have words to thank the community in Los Angeles and all the listeners for following me and following the Dodgers. Really it is something very unique and I appreciate that, and I thank God for that.”
Still, while the details of Jarrín’s long-term future are unknown, what is known is that had it not been for that call from Scully, a 2019 season filled with Jarrín’s calls likely would not have happened.
“He’s been my teacher, my mentor, my friend, my colleague. He has been everything to me,” Jarrín said. “Every time that he comes to the ballpark, he takes the time to be with me. I call him on the phone quite often because the way he speaks it’s a gift that very few people have.”
While Scully is no longer actively broadcasting with the Dodgers, their friendship, which has taken them through hundreds of games and several World Series, has lasted and continues to do so.
“We are very close friends. He honored me with his friendship for many, many years,” Jarrín said. “When he used to be with us and used to travel with us, you’ll always find Vin and Jaime together having dinner. …I cherish that very much.”
Featured Image: @jon.soohoo on Twitter
More information on the Jaime and Blanca Jarrín foundation, including how to donate can be found here.