Iconic San Marino Radio Personalities Keep the Audience Enthralled, Entertained
San Marino City Club 1st Vice President of Programs David Wang either lost a bet or deserves plenty of credit. A fan of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, Wang donned a jersey of his beloved A’s, then invited San Marino resident and Hall of Fame sportscaster Jaime Jarrin to re-enact his 27-year-old call of L.A. Dodger Kirk Gibson’s famous home run that destroyed whatever chances Oakland had of winning the 1988 World Series – while a video replay was broadcast onscreen.
“Alto, alto, alto…”
To further demonstrate his self-deprecating humor, Wang played a home video, allegedly recorded not long ago, where his two daughters “declared their baseball loyalties” by waking him from a nap and shouting ‘Go Dodgers’ while adorned in the team’s trademark blue.
It was a representative start to the Jan. 19 meeting of City Club, which traveled about a mile to find their speaker – or in this case, speakers – as Jaime and son Jorge Jarrin alternately wowed and entertained a large assemblage in the San Marino Center.
Residents since 1965, the Jarrins were in familiar territory. In Jorge’s estimation, maybe a little too familiar.
“See that wall over there,” he said, while pointing to the western boundary of the aged structure. “I remember my eighth grade graduation dance. I stood against that wall for an hour and a half waiting to ask Gail Davis to dance. You can still see the fingernail marks.”
Jaime Jarrin, who has provided play-by-play radio broadcasts of more than 4,000 games, will begin his 58th season behind the mic on opening day.
“I began when I was two years old,” Jaime quipped. “It has been a great ride.”
“I am his driver, his valet,” quipped Jorge, a long-time radio personality who also provides Spanish language broadcasts of Dodger games on Time Warner Cable. “I never thought at my age that I would be spending this much time with my father, and I am very blessed.”
In lieu of the traditional dinner speech, the Jarrins answered Wang’s pre-written questions that spanned a spectrum of subjects.
On Dodger ownership…
“I loved the O’Malleys,” said Jaime, who has worked through four different administrations. He called the 5-year Fox ownership “the lowest years of the Dodgers. They didn’t care about baseball and they didn’t care about the Dodgers. It was a long parade of young girls in mini-skirts.”
He said the McCourt administration was “a complete disaster, after the divorce” and the Guggenheims “are brilliant people. They have the most important thing for baseball and that is money. They also have people who know the business. They got $8 billion for the television rights.”
Jorge defended some of the decisions made by the McCourts and praised the exhibition game at the Los Angeles Coliseum that drew 103,000 fans.
“But the last two years, nobody was paying attention,” said Jorge. “The McCourts were way too consumed with the divorce. The Guggenheims were the cavalry riding in to save the day. We went from being the poorest team in Major League Baseball to the richest, overnight.”
On living in San Marino since 1965…
“There wasn’t nearly
as much traffic back then” Jaime quipped. “But there were more children. It seemed like every home had two or three kids. Now we don’t have any on La Mirada Street.”
Jorge remembered a case of mistaken identity.
“I was mowing our yard and a neighbor lady asked me if I could mow hers,” Jorge said. “I said ‘sure.’ She asked me when and I said ‘any time.’ She asked me how often I was in the neighborhood and I pointed to the house and said ‘I live right here, mama.’ She thought I was the son of a gardener.”
Roars of laughter.
“I remember at the time San Marino had a Hispanic population of 2-1/2 percent. We were the 2-1/2 percent. But look at all of you here tonight,” he continued. “You are all so involved in the community. The diversity is incredible.”
On work ethic…
“I used to open [radio station] KWKW at 5 in the morning. At 10 a.m., I went to KLOVE and did a musical radio show. I would tape television commercials in the afternoon and then go to the stadium at about 5. I would get home at 11, 11:30, 12. I slept three or for hours a day for about eight years. It was tough, but we managed.”
Jorge: “I am struck to hear that because my brothers and I never felt neglected. Plus, without my dad around that was just one explanation we didn’t have to give. My mom was, literally, the glue that held the family together. As a result, my brothers and I have great examples to live by.”
Most challenging assignment…
“My professional life is a book of two chapters,” said Jaime Jarrin. “What most people do not know is I was a newsman first.” He was asked to cover the funeral of President John F. Kennedy.
“When the family came onto the rotunda we were 20 feet away,” Jaime Jarrin said. “In the cathedral and at Arlington National Ceremony, we were just 20 feet away. That was the most difficult job and the most rewarding, as well.”
Jorge explained how he spent “five hours a day five days a week in a traffic helicopter” and revisited an incident where his pilot fell asleep at 1,300 feet over the intersection of the 605 freeway and Whittier Blvd.
I said “Hey, Scott, listen. We can’t have this,” Jorge quipped as the audience roared with delight. “You need to teach me how to fly this thing and if you need a nap, I’ll fly it. I don’t want to do it for five hours but I will do it for 15 minutes.”
Another harrowing experience was flying over the Rodney King riots when the LAPD “could not guarantee our safety.”
He also was part of an emergency landing that set down across the street from the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys.
“We will never see anything like that again,” said Jaime Jarrin, who served as Fernando Valenzuela’s personal interpreter during his remarkable career with the Dodgers. “I will never forget, it was opening night in 1981 and Fernando was the third starter. Jerry Reuss and Bert Hooton were both hurt. They called the bullpen and told Fernando he was going to start the game. He began the season 10-0 with five shutouts. The people fell in love with him. He was nineteen years old, he couldn’t speak a word of English and he was chubby. People fell in love with him everywhere.”
Jaime recalled a night in Chicago when Valenzuela pitched poorly and was pulled from the game, yet 25,000 fans waited outside the stadium chanting ‘Fer-nan-do!’ Jarrin was called from the broadcast booth to escort him outside to greet the people.
“The only time I saw him nervous was going to the White House,” he remembered. “It was the most beautiful experience. After lunch, there was a line of people waiting for Fernando to sign a baseball for them. Caspar Weinberger, Alexander Haig, George Bush, who was Vice President, and President Reagan. All waiting in line for this boy to sign a baseball. It was unique, unique, unique.”
Jorge stated that “he shares his father with the Latino community.”
“Forty-eight percent of our fan base is pulled from the Latino community,” said Jorge Jarrin. “A big reason for that is my father. He is the Vin Scully of the Latino community.”
The two were asked to work a broadcast together.
“It was an honor,” said Jorge. “I was working with a Hall of Famer, but I knew he would listen to every word I was saying. I had to live up to that benchmark.”
If anyone ever wondered why the Jarrin Family is so beloved, Jorge may have provided the best explanation.
“When I began announcing baseball games, my father told me these people have been working all day and they are looking for a little escape for three-and-a-half hours. You have to be their eyes and ears.”
Which was followed by cheers…
In other business, City Club honored two families for being the first third-generation members of the organization, which was founded in 1926. Laurie Modean and J. Matthew Morris were joined by their parents for a photo opportunity.
San Marino High School Assistant Principal Dr. Eric Bergmann provided a recap of the ultra-successful fall sports season and Loren Kleinrock presented Titan football Coach Mike Hobbie with an award – the first City Club has ever given to a coach after more than twenty years of lauding student-athletes.
“I would say that as much as Coach Hobbie knows about the game, he is even better in that he is good for kids,” Kleinrock said. “It’s his work with the kids that makes the difference.”