He is the Morgan Freeman of baseball, a voice as unmistakable and as fundamental as a beat.
He’s also given us the end date of his days behind the microphone at Dodger Stadium. Fortunately, that day will not happen until the end of the 2022 season, at which point he will have completed 64 years.
Surely Jaime Jarrin has earned the right to say goodbye. The problem is that he is the last legend to do so. Because he is a quick-witted gentleman, he will undoubtedly turn out the lights. But where does that leave us? Not much time and precious little supplies.
Jarin, Chick Hearn, Vin Scully, Bob Miller, and Ralph Lawler made Los Angeles a play-by-play diamond mine. They were just as collegial in real life as they looked on your TV, radio or mobile device.
His influence went far beyond the limits of the arena. The Dodgers draw in a bottomless Latino fan base because of Zarine and Fernando Valenzuela, who are now in the booth themselves. From popcorn machines to can-you-believe-it to oh-me-oh-my, they gave a soundtrack to all our games.
Mind you, this is not a backhand slap to his successors or others talking through innings, periods, and stops. Current LA broadcasters are still better off than most of the rest of the land, where fake cheerleading and pandering are the norm.
Our people just happened to follow a walking pantheon. No one else will have to face such pressure.
For one thing, the franchise has forgotten the value of a strong play-by-play man. When Rich Waltz was hurried to salvage the Angels telecast this year, you immediately noticed the difference. There is an art to slowly guiding an audience through a game, while making sure you never pass out in front of it. That art has not disappeared, but is losing its relevance. Now the emphasis is on sell, sell, sell the home team, and if they don’t win, pretend it’s a shame, or that the umps did it.
“You can’t copy Vin Scully, but I copied his style,” Zarine once said. “I pray to God to grant me the quality of watching the game with my eyes instead of my heart. I try to be very fair.”
The COVID-19 season also brought an ominous feeling. Most play-by-play teams, at least on television, no longer had to travel. Equipped with space-age monitors and panels at home, broadcasters were limited to the same pictures that fans saw. The fact that they made it almost normal was miraculous.
Opportunities to acquaint themselves with players, take clubhouse temperatures, carousel with scouts and writers, and others, took in information and chatted with them. All this enriched his knowledge, which in turn incorporated texture into broadcasting.
Even if the pandemic subsides, there is no promise that broadcasters will travel again. This is another step towards obsolescence.
The guy telling baseball stories to Mexican-Americans isn’t from Mexico and didn’t know anything about baseball until he actually got a job. Jarin is from Ecuador, he was working for HJCB, a powerful station known as The Voice of the Andes, when he was given the opportunity to be here.
He took an English class and began working for KWKW as a newsman, covering the US-Mexico summit, and the unrest in East LA. – Compositions in the studio. Scully, off the road, always made sure Zareen knew the weather conditions and all the necessary information.
Zareen soon developed a signature home run call: “Se wa, se wa, se wa … He has said it repeatedly during the Dodgers’ current run of eight consecutive division titles.
Like the Hollywood Stars exhibition game, Zarine was also a custodian of Dodger traditions. As the event unfolded, Zarine watched from the press box, entertaining people she didn’t know, who represented the “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “Jackass” generations.
He turned around with appropriate indignation and said, “I remember Hollywood stars. Real stars. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr. … They were stars. These are not stars.” Then he walked away, dismissal.
In 1998, Zareen won the Ford C. Frick Award, a ticket to the Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He probably didn’t count on the 24 extra years after that. But legends are creatures of habit, just as listeners have more than 12 months to develop new ones.