Enrique Oliu was hired by the Tampa Bay Rays 15 years ago to be their radio Spanish announcer. However, there is something that makes him different from the other 2,000 plus broadcasters in professional sports. Enrique, a Nicaraguan native, has been blind since birth and can only make out bright lights. Yet he somehow is able to defy all odds and broadcast professional sports. He can tell whether it is a single, an out, or a home run from the crack of the bat. I was literally amazed when I heard that and knew that I had to do my project with him.
I met Enrique for lunch at the Old Time Deli in downtown Tampa. The first thing i wondered was “how did he get there”, i mean he is blind. Well he walked. He memorized the layout of downtown Tampa and can get anywhere just from memorization. If he can broadcast baseball games then i guess it must be pretty easy to find his way around a city.
Mr. Oliu explained how he had been the biggest sports fan since he was little and knew he wanted to be in broadcasting since age 8. He would listen to all the games on radio, watch them on TV just to listen to the broadcasters, and even attend the games. Enrique would know exactly what was going on in the game from crowd noise. He said he would memorize different games and then go back game and announce the game into a tape recorder. Everyone told him that he couldn’t be in broadcasting because he was blind (including his mom), yet Enrique showed his passion and persistence and didn’t give up. He ended up getting a job as a PA announcer for minor league baseball, and then ended up with an audition to do radio for the Rays. Needless to say, he ended up getting that job with the Rays.
Right when i told Mr. Oliu about my passion for broadcasting, he gave me one simple piece of advice; “Don’t go after the money. Do it because you love it, not because of the paycheck.” Broadcasting is something that is not easy to make a great paycheck unless you become like the top of the top. Always have to dream big though. The other big piece of advice he gave me was that “There is no event that is too small to cover. If there is a cockroach race, then get your ass to that racetrack and cover the event”.
My lifelong dream has been to become a sports broadcaster so i wanted to spend a day with someone in that field, and i couldn’t think of anyone better than Enrique Oliu. He is truly an inspirational person and what he does is just extraordinary.