They've been 'Hall of Fame bookends' on Dodger airwaves for 55 years

The ball soared off left fielder Carl Crawford's bat once, then twice, into the dimming blue sky.

And each time, the home runs conjured a familiar call for listeners of Spanish-language radio, one that has made its way onto Dodgers shirts and blended seamlessly with the roaring crowd for generations.

"La pelota se va, se va, se va, y despida la con un beso!" Dodgers announcer Jaime Jarrin exclaimed in a voice that seemed practically iambic in its rhythm. "The ball is going, going, going, and you can tell her goodbye with a kiss."

Vin Scully may be baseball's poet laureate, but the man who has shared the Dodgers airwaves with him for 55 years is no slouch in the lyricism department.

As the Dodgers tried to close out the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, Jarrin described a wicked, arching pitch by Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw as "aristocratic" in its curvature. A swing and a miss accomplished nothing more than "fanning the breeze."

Jarrin, 77, has been a fixture with the Dodgers since joining the organization as a 19-year-old and broadcasting his first game a year later. Once a news reporter, Jarrin covered the Watts riots and the funeral for John F. Kennedy. He has called 25 World Series, the Olympics and the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

Like Scully, he is a Hall of Famer, making the Dodgers the only team with two announcers enshrined in Cooperstown. But in many ways, and perhaps not surprisingly, he inhabits a parallel world that makes him hard to fully appreciate if you're not a Spanish speaker.

"He's kind of like Vin Scully to Spanish-speaking people," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said before Monday's game. "He's been here so long; he's been through it all."

It's a common comparison. But, strolling through the press box, the 85-year-old Scully protested in a way perhaps only he could.

"He's one of my dearest friends. We go back so many years together," he began. "He's not the Spanish Vin Scully. He is what he is, Jaime Jarrin. He stands on his own two feet. He's a Hall of Fame announcer and a wonderful human being."

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Jarrin arrived in the United States from Ecuador on June 24, 1955 — the day Sandy Koufax made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. When he brought his team to L.A., Walter O'Malley wanted to make inroads with the Spanish-speaking community.

Jarrin was signed to a radio deal in 1958 and was soon told he'd be calling baseball games. But first he had to learn the sport.

Although about a third of Major League Baseball players today are foreign born, with several from Latin America, that was not the case back then. Before the team moved into Dodger Stadium in 1962, they played at the Coliseum, where Jarrin said only about 8% of the fans in attendance were Latino. Now, about 47% of fans attending games are Latinos, according to the Dodgers.

During one inning of Game 4, Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe came up to bat for the Dodgers, introduced with music from Latin American singers.

"Vin and Jaime are Hall of Fame bookends," said Mark Langill, the Dodgers' historian. "When they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the stadium, what were the odds the English and Spanish soundtracks for the Dodgers would still be in place?"

But Langill said that in many ways, it took a long time for Jarrin to get the recognition he deserved. Over the decades, there wasn't "necessarily an equal footing between English and Spanish" broadcasters in Major League Baseball, he said.

When Fernando Valenzuela joined the Dodgers, Jarrin was assigned to be the translator of the shy 20-year-old rookie who inspired "Fernandomania" back in 1981.

"I still recall Fernando answering 'Bueno,' and Jaime saying, 'Fernando is so pleased to be here…' I was like, 'Wait a second!'" Langill said with a laugh. "Suddenly they were a pair, and Jaime started really getting his due."

Valenzuela, now a color commentator with Jarrin, said the veteran broadcaster has meant a lot to him.