The Jarrín Legacy Continues to Shape Baseball, the Dodgers and the Latino Community
Jorge Jarrín began his Dodgers career showing people to their seats.
He was the man you exchange smiles with as you show your ticket and walk gingerly on down to find your aisle, filled with the anticipation of a game and a couple of Dodger Dogs.
He was a gatekeeper to so much joy and in many ways remains the same. Only now, he is sharing his vantage alongside his father, 84-year-old broadcasting icon Jaime Jarrín.
You ask Jorge the best part of his job and he’s fond of saying that it’s being with his dad. Press him about the worst part and he will break into a smile and say, “that I’m with my dad all the time now.”
“I may buy a pair of shoes that I really like. My dad will look at them and say, ‘Hey, those are really nice,’” Jorge says with a chuckle.
Suddenly the Jarrìns are wandering the stadium in the same shirt and shoes and the image can’t be unseen in the mind’s eye.
The thing is, it’s easy to imagine such a sight. Two paragons of radio walking around looking and sounding the same. It’s an inevitability of life and just part of what makes the Jarríns so beloved.
Jaime is talking to me over Zoom, the most personal way anyone could conduct an interview back in June. He’s wearing glasses and a Polo shirt, delivering anecdotes with the detail of a professor and the depth of a master storyteller. His memory for dates is impeccable.
His father began broadcasting Dodgers games in 1959, continuing to do so 62 years later. Jorge’s journey to the booth has been as prolific as it has been fortuitous.
And the ease and eloquence in which he calls the game belies the fact that there was some trepidation on his part the moment he stepped into the booth with his father in 2015.
“My God, he's a Hall of Fame broadcaster,” Jorge tells En Fuego. “He's at the top of his game, nationally recognized. And I know that he's listening to every word I'm saying. Do I measure up?”
Father sitting nearby, no doubt beaming with pride as his son steps into his shoes, about to make his own mark, blissfully unaware of the totality of the fear.
Jorge had some support and it came from his own son, Stefan Jarrín. While younger, his experience playing in the Dodgers organization gave him a little insight into what his father was going through.
“You know, all you got to do, Dad, is be yourself,” Jorge remembers Stefan saying. “Just do the best you can. And if you're happy with what you've done, then there's nothing more that you can do. So, you don't need to do this to please anyone or think that someone else is listening and making that comparison.”
The Jarríns have slipped into a rhythm, three generations of men finding their way through life while making sure to lean on one another for support and guidance.
Before his son was drafted by the Dodgers. Before he himself called games next to his Hall of Fame father, Jorge was showing patrons to their seats.
He and his brothers experienced Dodger Stadium in much the same way you might the neighborhood park, running up and down the aisles while dad went to work.
“And then when the game is over, I'll come get you,” Jorge remembers his dad saying as he and his brothers watched games, tossed the occasional peanut off the top deck and flirted with the aeronautic qualities of a perfectly prepared paper airplane.
By high school the games turned into work and Jorge became an usher, his brother Mauricio had the far more lucrative gig selling programs, raking in upwards of $150 a night.
Little did he know, but those early days would help shape his relationship with the game, giving him a unique perspective now employed every single inning.
“We grew up knowing a lot of the ushers and a lot of the parking lot attendants and the vendors and people that you see on a regular basis” Jorge said. “And especially once I started going to the ballpark every day, you really get caught up in the whole story of the season. Because to me, the season itself is one big story made up of separate little chapters. Every game is a different chapter in this overall story.”
Jorge graduated from Pepperdine in 1979 and became a page at NBC’s studio lot, which meant giving an hourlong tour to tourists. “So that right there gave me an opportunity to really hone my skills in public speaking.”
The 1984 Summer Olympics were on the horizon, and all of Los Angeles was beginning to showcase the value of a city teeming with culture and vitality.
Jarrín heard that the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee was looking for talent, being bilingual he applied and was hired as the public relations spokesperson.
In the afterglow of the games, the duty fell to Jorge to do TV and radio spots for the committee. By a stroke of sports kismet, Jarrín was giving an interview from Dodger Stadium and was on the air with “Sportstalk” with Bud Furillo and Tommy Hawkins.
Stuck in traffic at the time was KABC general manager George Green who was taken with the young man on the radio.
“He heard my presence on the show, liked it very much and thought, he's young, he's Latino and we happen to be looking for someone right now that we wanted to add to our morning show.”
The gig was to be a traffic reporter for the morning and afternoon drive. The man who once ushered people to their seats was getting Angelenos through traffic—a saintly enterprise if you’ve ever been on the 405 at any point of the day.
Thus was born Captain Jorge on KABC and El Capitan on L.A. Spanish stations KLAX and KSKQ.
“And so, I was one of the few people that would be heard on a daily basis on three radio stations, one in English and two in Spanish,” Jorge said.
It’s kind of hard not want to become a Major League ballplayer but especially so if your youth is spent at Dodger Stadium as you get to sit alongside some of the most iconic names who ever donned a uniform.
“It was awesome growing up,” Stefan said. He’s rocking a Manchester United kit and a backward cap. You can spot the telltale inflections of a Jarrìn alongside the underlying vigor of youth. “My grandfather loved taking me and my brothers to the ballpark. He would take us down into the clubhouse, take us on the field during batting practice and stuff like that.”
“You look back and you really appreciate it a lot more nowadays. I have pictures with my brothers sitting in the dugout with Randy Johnson or on the field with Alex Rodriguez.”
While many of us were collecting baseball cards, Stefan and his brothers were collecting crazy baseball memories.
Just as the men in his family before him, these moments would eventually shape his life.
“I just feel like those experiences really helped me as I wanted to become a professional baseball player. And, you know, kind of getting that inside perspective as to what it's like and the hard work that it takes to be a Major League Baseball player.”
That’s exactly what it means to be a Jarrín, never settling for your current station in life. Furthering your own personal goal post just a little bit further, surprising yourself a little bit more.
Jarrín went to Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel. “I wasn't a guy that was getting Division I looks or anything like that. So, I always knew that if I want to continue playing baseball, I would have to go through the junior college route.”
He went to Orange Coast College where he played under the beloved John Altobelli who tragically lost his life earlier this year in the helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six other individuals.
Jarrín remembers the man he calls Alto as straightforward, someone who led with the truth to get the most of his players.
“He was one of the best coaches I ever had. And the coaching staff in general at OCC was just awesome. He told me when I got there that I was going to have to work really hard to not only assure my spot on the team, but any sort of playing that I got.”
His second year there, Alto explained that Stefan could very well win a job despite incoming Division I players. The better option might be to look elsewhere to get playing time. He found that at East Los Angeles College.
Eventually, the Dodgers quite literally came calling. “I was actually getting ready to register for my fall semester for school, and I remember just having the draft on my computer in the background. And I got a call from my dad.”
Then Dodgers scouting director Logan White had informed Jorge that Stefan was about to be selected in the 40 round.
Getting comfortable was an issue for Stefan. The schedule, injuries and nagging self-doubt plagued his first two years in the minors.
On July 31, 2012 the Dodgers pulled the trigger on a trade that secured them Shane Victorino for Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin and a player to be named later.
Around that time Jarrín decided he was going to play for himself, find the joy he had in the game and just play, because he did in fact belong. In a twist, it was that inspired two months of play that piqued the interest of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Jarrín would go on to become that player who was named later, reporting to the Phillies the following season.
Jarrín's life would take another turn professionally as he was eventually released by the Phillies. You get the sense that there's a peace in that moment as he talks about it nearly seven years later.
“When I came back home after I got released, I still kind of had a desire to keep playing. But deep down, I knew, you know what? I had my exposure to professional baseball… So, I decided let's move on to other things.”
Stewardship and Dedication
There was a time when Jorge was waking up at 3:45 a.m. every weekday to be at Van Nuys Airport to make his morning commute report. After that was finished, he’d go home only to return later that afternoon for a flight schedule that would end around six in the evening.
It sounds exhausting to all but one person. Jorge recalls his dad saying at the time, “You've got all this time in the middle of the day that you're wasting. Why don't you do something?”
Rather than a loving eye roll and a “Sure, dad” shrug, Jorge did do something. He helped launch an advertising agency, later launched Prime Ticket, Fox Deportes and myriad other endeavors.
Some 18 years into the agency he left to take on the title of director of Spanish sales for the Dodgers where he helped expand the organization’s Spanish radio network. All of this while he was still broadcasting on the radio.
“And then in 2011, I left KABC,” Jorge recalled. “In 2012, the Dodgers said, hey, Fox Deportes is interested in doing 30 games in Spanish, would you be interested in working with Manny Mota?”
There was only one answer to that question and suddenly Jorge Jarrín was calling games like his dad. By 2015, he was sharing the booth with Jaime.
What the elder Jarrín imparted to his son has been invaluable. How to be a professional, the tricks of the trade, words of wisdom here and there and often on a daily basis.
But the one that Jorge points out is a reminder as to what this job means not only to the Dodgers but the millions of fans who have come before and will come after. “My father has always said I look at it as a public service.”
“What we do is give people a mental break from all the problems, from all the things that they have to deal with on a daily basis,” Jorge remembered his dad saying. “That life is, he says, for three hours we’re the ones guiding you through that escape, when you can settle back and sit down for a while and let the pace of this game take you away from your preoccupations, from the things that you have to worry about.”
The family is doing more than alleviating built-up anxiety throughout a sprawling city, they are putting whatever they can back into the community.
When Jaime’s wife Blanca passed away in Feb. 2019, the family put an emphasis on starting something that would honor her memory and give back to the city that has given them so much.
Stefan serves as the director of the Jaime & Blanca Jarrín Foundation, an organization dedicated to giving financial aid to first-generation college students interested in law and journalism.
“One way we figured that was a great way to carry on the legacy of the Jarrìn name was to establish this foundation where we can continue to make an impact on lives within the community in Southern California and provide assistance.”
It’s one of the many things Stefan has gleaned from his father and grandfather, a generosity that is undeniable.
But he’s also learned something about success, how to make it in whatever enterprise you might find your passion. The secret to success is often easy to decipher but comes bearing the hardship of consistency.
Stefan remains busy running with his grandfather’s podcast “Despìdala Con un Beso” as well as the foundation, but he also has a unique perspective in that he has been remarkably close to two men whose voices are inextricably linked to LA.
“I think the message that I received both from both of them that always stuck out to me is never take anything for granted, never be content with the way things are.”
It should be any families’ goal to leave the community a bit better than when they found it.
Jaime came to this country not knowing that a sport he knew nothing about would change the course of his family’s history and the manner in which a city views its beloved Dodgers. Jorge has never stopped striving and it has seen him reach the very literal heights of Los Angeles.
Stefan takes a moment to think and reiterates that if you are looking for a moral in this family history. It’s that you never stop working.
“One thing that I've learned from their path is just continue to work hard on a daily basis. Never be content with where you are right now, because there's always an opportunity for growth in any aspect...There's always an opportunity to grow and achieve more.”
This is part two of our two-part series highlighting the life and times of the Jarrín family.