The Detroit Tigers address a long-standing void
Growing up Hispanic in Southeastern Michigan, depending on where you lived, it was always a challenge, especially if you grew up in the suburbs. My parents would always go back to Southwest Detroit to hang out with friends or to pick up the various foods that my mom would use to cook. The number one item that was always picked up was Café Bustelo, which had the face of Lady Bustelo “Angelina” on the packaging.
As I got older, I started to see more and more Hispanic people outside of just Southwest Detroit. The Downriver area of Michigan in communities like Southgate, Melvindale and Lincoln Park, were seeing large amounts of Hispanic people moving into the area and starting businesses. There was a reason behind this.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in Lincoln Park grew by 130 percent between 2000 and 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing Hispanic communities in the state. This growth has been driven in part by the availability of affordable housing in the area, as well presence of job opportunities with the Big 3 and other industrial jobs. Ford Motor Company was the reason my father and my mother moved here. He got a job at Ford while my mother worked, sewing steering wheel covers and other items made of leather for GM.
The growth of the Hispanic population in cities like Lincoln Park has had a noticeable impact on the local community. Many Hispanic residents have become involved in local businesses and organizations, and there has been a growing demand for bilingual services in the area.
Here's where the Detroit Tigers step in
According to a report published by the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University, the Hispanic population in Michigan is projected to continue growing in the coming years. The report, titled "Latinos in Michigan: A Demographic, Economic and Social Profile," notes that the Hispanic population in the state has more than tripled since 1990 and is expected to reach over one million residents by 2035. This growth is largely driven by a combination of natural increase (births minus deaths) and migration from other states and countries.
The report also highlights the diversity of the Hispanic population in Michigan, with significant variation in national origins, cultural traditions, and socioeconomic status. For example, while the majority of Hispanics in the state are of Mexican origin, there are also significant populations of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Central and South Americans.
What the Detroit Tigers did by adding a Spanish radio team was to address a growing need. While fans celebrate ¡Fiesta Tigres! each year, the community outreach can be seen and now, it can be heard.
As Cody Stavenhagen discussed in his article, ($) Carlos Guillén, the bilingual media relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers, has made a mission of sorts to bring Spanish-language broadcasts on-air. He will be doing the play-by-play, joined by Mari Montes and Barbaro Garbey, a member of the 1984 Detroit Tigers team and the first Cuban national player to deflect and play in the majors.
Whenever I see Guillén around the press box or in the dugout, he speaks Spanish to me. For those who know me, I speak two languages, but Spanish is not my strongest. While I can understand it and read it just fine, speaking it with confidence is sometimes a struggle. Growing up, I only spoke it around family. But Carlos makes an effort to be not only patient with me, but with a new audience that will be worldwide.
Playing a role in this broadcast is something that I’m very proud of, and I know it’s something that means a lot to Latin fans that love the Olde English D in Detroit and around the world. We’re thrilled at the opportunity to help story-tell the passion and intensity that each game brings, and find impactful ways to bring the Tigers closer to the Spanish-speaking community. This is a great way to engage with a part of our baseball community that’s given the Tigers so much support over our team’s history.
This is possible due to a tremendous amount of teamwork from different departments within the Tigers front office and beyond. Those include our Corporate Partnerships team, led by Chris Coffman, and Broadcasting department, led by Ron Colangelo. Additionally, this would not be possible without the support from our partners at Audacy and Major League Baseball, so I’d like to give them a big thank you as well. Last but not least, I’m also thankful to my partners on air, Mari Montes and Barbaro Garbey, who I’m very excited to work with, describing Tigers baseball and Miguel Cabrera’s final season in our native language.
We look forward to bringing Spanish-speaking fans right to the heart of the excitement around the Tigres de Detroit this year and for many to come
Being a fan for just a moment, the aspect of the audiences across the world is stated well. But for anyone who grew up around Southeastern Michigan or in West Michigan who is Hispanic, who will be able to listen to the game in their native language, this was long overdue and I am glad it has come to fruition.