The Dodgers' Best Supporting All-Stars
This story first appeared in the Aug. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Vin Scully & Jaime Jarrin | Play-by-play men
It has been years since Jarrin has heard Scully call a Dodgers game. Although the Hall of Fame broadcasters have sat in neighboring booths for 50 years, they are, of course, working at the same time. But for Jarrin, the team's 76-year-old Spanish-language radio and television announcer, it was once a regular occurrence. For the first eight years of his career, the Spanish announcing crew didn't travel with the team for road games and instead listened to Scully's live radio broadcast and translated it. "I know his way of doing things. Not that I copied, but he has had a great, great influence on me," says Jarrin, a native of Quito, Ecuador, who has been the Dodgers' announcer en espanol for 54 years.
There is perhaps no better teacher than Scully, 84, the Bronx-born announcer who has racked up countless broadcasting accolades (including a lifetime achievement Emmy). With his amazing 63 years on the job, Scully has been on hand for five major changes in ownership, the team's move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, countless blockbuster trades and six Dodgers World Series titles. But from where he sits, "My whole reason to be here is right there, between those foul lines," says Scully, gesturing toward the field from his announcer's booth. "This is my world." He's not interested in celebrity fans or the particulars of potential stadium renovations, saying his perch above home plate is just fine as is. "The booth is terrific; it doesn't bother me at all. The men who work here are absolutely intolerable, but because I am a saintly soul -- no, they are the best," he jokes. "The furniture is fine, the desk holds up, and the view is perfect."
Nancy Bea Hefley | Dodger Stadium organist
Hefley has played "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" more than 4,000 times during her 25-year career with the Dodgers. Surprisingly, the San Pedro native doesn't mind the repetitive nature of banging out the seventh-inning-stretch classic. "Actually, I kind of like that song," says Hefley, who started with the team in 1988, when it won its most recent World Series title. "A lot of songs you get very tired of playing, but I do like it." Hefley, who declined to give her age, began training in classical piano at age 4 and has a repertoire of about 2,000 songs. However, gone are the days when she would play upward of 35 tunes a game; in recent years, she has ceded ground to prerecorded hip-hop and rock music that is blasted throughout the stadium.
One of only about a dozen organists still working in MLB stadiums, Hefley now plays 10 to 15 songs a game; among her favorites are show tunes from the musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. She is particularly fond of Miserables' jaunty "Master of the House," which was used as former star pitcher Orel Hershiser's theme song. Hefley works inside the Vin Scully Press Box, her organ set up so she has a view of the field and rows of working journalists. "I don't want to be put in a box all by myself," she says. It is from this perch that Hefley often is shown from behind her organ on the DodgerVision video screen during games, drawing an ovation. "I really do love this stadium," she says.
Marty Vigil & Yolanda Ocampo, Bob Natelborg | Concessions and merchandise workers
Vigil and Ocampo have spent roughly half their lives working in concessions at Dodger Stadium -- about 10 of those years at the same stand. Vigil, 63, who has called the stadium home for 32 years, says she long ago learned the secret to dealing with harried fans demanding Dodger Dogs and beers: "Working together, learning the skills and rhythm." Each game, their Field-level stand sells as many as 1,500 Dodger Dogs, the ballpark's most popular food item. (The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council says the stadium is among baseball's top hot dog-selling venues.)
Despite the hustling, Ocampo, 61, who has worked at Chavez Ravine for 31 years, says concession workers can sometimes follow the on-field action, "if you peek between the lines." Natelborg began working in merchandise at Dodger Stadium during the 1965 World Series. While he oversees multiple stands, he works from one on the Reserve level -- his favorite spot. "When the fans start coming in, that is the most exciting part," says Natelborg, 63, who also teaches history at Huntington Middle School in San Marino. Traditional blue Dodger hats are the most popular item: "A staple."
Roger Owens | The Peanut Man
Owens could be the most famous concessions worker in sports. The peanut seller, known for his precise behind-the-back bag tosses that clear multiple rows of seats, has worked for the Dodgers for 54 years. The Glendale native started with the team when it played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, before Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. He quit his high school baseball team (he was a pitcher, natch) to begin working at the Coliseum at age 15 and earn money for his family. "I come from an extremely poor background," says Owens, 69, who has appeared on The Tonight Show four times and can chuck a bag as far as 30 rows. These days, he plies his trade on Dodger Stadium's loge level, on the third-base side, where some fans prepay for a year's supply of peanuts to be tossed at games. Owens says he collected $7,000 in prepayments before this season started.