Trio surmounting the radio waves
Spanish broadcasts a success for Diamondbacks
It was a moment meant for jubilation.
Words seemingly could not describe the elation that overwhelmed the Diamondbacks' faithful that famous night in November as Luis Gonzalez's flare sailed out of the reach of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to clinch Game 7 and the 2001 World Series championship for Arizona.
The franchise was celebrating its finest moment in history. Diamondbacks Spanish broadcasters Miguel Quintana and Oscar Soria were celebrating theirs as well.
The Diamondbacks duo somehow found the words.
"It was fantastic," said Soria, who serves as the color commentator. "There had not been a more dramatic World Series that I remember because it meant so much to so many people. It was right after Sept. 11, and it was an emotional time to be in the United States. There will never be another one like that."
The Diamondbacks are one of 14 teams that regularly broadcast baseball games in Spanish, and Quintana and Soria broadcast all 162 of them. Along with radio analyst Richard Saenz -- who also serves as the director of Hispanic marketing for the club -- the broadcast team travels to 60 of 81 road games. Next season, the Diamondbacks will join the Angels, Dodgers, Marlins and Padres as one of the teams that send two Spanish broadcasters to every away game. The Texas Rangers use one broadcaster at all road games.
When Spanish broadcasters do not travel, the road games are produced in a studio with sound effects. It's a method that dates to the 1950s and a method Saenz is looking to avoid in the future.
"One of the things is that you see everything from double-switches to who is warming up in the bullpen if you are there," he said. "The question to us is why cheat Spanish-speaking listeners, if you have sold sponsorship to afford traveling?"
The Diamondbacks own the rights to their Spanish broadcast and are in charge of all the marketing and advertising. The radio station KSUN provides the signal, which reaches from Arizona into Mexico. The Diamondbacks provide virtually everything else.
"You are going to make money," Saenz said. "About 28 percent of the players in the Major Leagues are Latin, and look at the population of the United States. Any club that is not marketing the Latin players is making a big mistake. I think teams are starting to figure it out and do what the Dodgers have been doing for years."
Saenz has a point. Hispanic buying power nearly hit $700 billion in 2004 and is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2010, according to Hispanic Business Inc. Buying power -- personal disposable income or after-tax income available for purchasing goods and services -- is a measure of the relative economic importance of a market segment.
There are an estimated 41.3 million Hispanics living in the United States with a real medium income of $34,241, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Saenz has a long history in business and is an expert of sorts. He worked for the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative in Benson, Ariz., for 18 years, eventually working as the director of business development for the company. He served for five years as mayor of the town.
He began with the Diamondbacks in 1996 because he "wanted to do something different."
He also was a huge sports fan.
"They call me the mayor on air," Saenz said. "They say I'm the 'original Papa Grande.' Miguel and Oscar are so great to work with. The job is different from what I was doing before, but there is politics in this game. So, I'm ready for that, too."
The trio is ready for anything. Each day the men show up at the park prepared with notes in hand and baseball on the brain. The No. 1 language on air is Spanish, but the No. 1 goal is appealing to everybody. The Internet and satellite radio sends their nightly broadcasts around the world.
It's a responsibility each accepts as an honor.
"We are always thinking about listeners here in Arizona and everywhere where we can be heard," said Quintana, a 21-year radio veteran in his eighth season with the Diamondbacks. "Sometimes different announcers cannot penetrate different markets, but you have to be neutral and have a big outreach. More fans is what we want."
Soria agrees, in part because his broadcasting experience reaches both sides of the United States/Mexico border. For the past 15 seasons, he has been the radio broadcaster for the Naranjeros in Hermosillo, Mexico. The native of Tijuana, Mexico, writes a column daily for the Spanish publication El Imparcial.
He has worked for the Diamondbacks for the past six seasons.
"If you reach only one person, you treat him the same as you do if you are broadcasting to one million people," Soria said. "You never know when somebody is listening to you for the first time, so you want to leave an impression with every word."
Put simply, they call every game with the excitement and importance associated with Game 7 of the World Series. Or at least they try.
"Winning in 2001 was the greatest thing, you can't get any higher or top winning in seven games against the Yankees," Soria said. "I had so many nerves, but I think I was able to control my emotions and work. I really appreciate those moments now more than I did then."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.