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Jaime Jarrín called a 2020 World Series rich in meaning from an empty Dodger Stadium

Jaime Jarrín, the Spanish-language voice of the Dodgers, poses for a portrait at Dodger Stadium in May 2019.
Jaime Jarrín, the Spanish-language voice of the Dodgers, poses for a portrait at Dodger Stadium in 2019.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Jaime Jarrín remembers it all.

The joy of Los Angeles’ first World Series title 1959, his first year in the Dodgers broadcast booth. The miraculous sweep four years later of the powerful 1963 New York Yankees. Another trophy in 1965. Then the titles in 1981 and 1988.

And, of course, the heartbreak. It was ever present in the 1970s, much like it was the last 32 years.

So when the Dodgers shook decades of frustration last Tuesday, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6, the Hall of Fame Spanish-language radio announcer could draw on the emotions with which he has been familiar for 61 years.

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A series-by-series look at how the Dodgers beat the Brewers, Padres, Braves and Rays to win their first World Series title since 1988 this season.

“Y los Dodgers son, finalmente, después de 32 años, los amos absolutos del beisból de grandes ligas,” Jarrín said. “Cae aquí en Los Ángeles el trofeo del comisionado decretando a los Dodgers de Los Ángeles como los monarcas del béisbol en año 2020.”

In English, his call translates to: “And the Dodgers, finally, after 32 years, are the absolute masters of Major League Baseball. The Commissioner’s Trophy lands here in Los Angeles, decreeing the Los Angeles Dodgers the monarchs of baseball in the year 2020.”

A few days later, Jarrín said he couldn’t recall what he said in the moments after plate umpire Jerry Meals called Julio Urías’ final strike. Not because his memory failed him. But because he didn’t script the moment. Jarrín spoke off the cuff, his words flowing freely as he watched on TV monitors Clayton Kershaw emerge from the Dodgers bullpen to join the mosh pit forming near home plate.

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Jarrín, the longest-tenured announcer in baseball, was 1,400 miles away from the celebration occurring in Arlington, Texas. At the time the Dodgers clinched, he was sitting in a suite at Dodger Stadium with his son, Jorge, who has called games alongside his father for five seasons. The ballpark at Chavez Ravine was dark, illuminated only by the LED boards casting an eerie glow onto the field below.

Complete coverage of the Dodgers winning their first World Series championship since 1988 after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 World Series.

“To be at Dodger Stadium at night, totally dark” is weird, Jarrín said on the phone from his home in San Marino. “It’s a place for 56,000 people. We were eight people in the whole park for the World Series. Eight. No more. Nobody else.”

Yet the strangeness of the 2020 season — Jarrín noticed from his perch in the radio booth coyotes scrounging for food down below — made the World Series more meaningful.

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“I’m glad we were able to put in 60 games” this season, Jarrín said. “And to have a very interesting playoffs. … I think all in all, considering all the problems we had, the pandemic that is still around us, it was really a fantastic year. I really appreciate what the Dodgers did winning the World Series.”

The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Tampa Bay Rays for the World Series title on Tuesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers offered to fly Jarrín to Texas for the World Series but he declined. He wouldn’t have been allowed near the team. Staying home was safer.

He didn’t mind the arrangement much. With the help of Vin Scully, Jarrín and his radio partner re-created road games in the KWKW studio from 1959 to 1964. The process was much tougher then. They had to interpret the English radio broadcast in real time, without the advantage of television.

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So returning to a similar setup didn’t bother Jarrín. All he missed this year was interaction.

“I was practically away from everything,” he said. “I couldn’t go downstairs. If a player makes a good play, I like to go down and congratulate him. I’d say, ‘You did fantastic,’ or ‘Congratulations, you did very well.’ I couldn’t see anybody there.”

But even from his post, Jarrín had no trouble offering perspective. He remarked on Kershaw, who rid himself of the ghosts of past October failures and “dissipate[ed] any doubts about him being a Hall of Famer.” He celebrated the triumphs of Urías and Victor González, Mexican pitchers who followed in the footsteps of Fernando Valenzuela and delivered a title to Los Angeles. He marveled at the resilience of a team that was “tired of hearing ‘you have failed.’”

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At no point was he surprised.

“This year, everybody picked the Dodgers to win,” he said. “Everybody said they should win. Everybody said they have the best team. And that was true. I think we had the best team ever. We had power, we had pitching, to point that we won 43 games out of 60 games. The best.”


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