LOS ANGELES – Southern California native Polo Ascencio used to work for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He never could have imagined he’d be broadcasting play-by-play in Spanish for the St. Louis Cardinals years later.
“I would sit in the stands and sit inside of the empty booth. I would call the game not thinking that I was going to be calling a game for real,” Ascencio said from his Los Angeles hotel room Monday night.
He wasn’t nervous in 2016 to talk about the game he loves when he accepted the first-ever Spanish-speaking broadcaster position for the team, he was nervous to meet a St. Louis legend.
“The only thing I was nervous about was meeting Mike Shannon,” he said.
He was surprised and flattered by Shannon’s warm welcome.
“The first words that came out of his mouth were, ‘What took them so long?’ I said I don’t know but I’m glad it’s me and I’m glad I’m here,” Ascencio said.
Now as Shannon prepares for life after baseball, Ascencio is in his fifth year working alongside Bengie Molina.
“I think what we’ve done over the last five years has shown the Cardinals, the city of St. Louis—the Latino community of St. Louis—that we are here for the long run,” he said.
The duo started broadcasting games for a broader Cardinals audience in 2016 with a pair of games to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Three years later, they called 81 games at Busch Stadium.
Wednesday night they’ll be calling the N.L. Wild Card game in Los Angeles.
“I’m not going to say it makes my job easier, but it makes it a lot more entertaining for me because I learn a lot having Bengie Molina next to me,” Ascencio said.
“And I’m pretty sure that the fans learn a lot too. He’s a book. He’s not a book, he’s a computer.”
Ascencio came to the United States more than two decades ago as a baseball fan who quickly became a Dodgers fan, then eventually working for the team.
He’s seen a lot of baseball fans and says there’s something about the redbird fans.
“In St. Louis, it’s different. The passion for the Cardinals hits a little different. I don’t know why but it does and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.
Ascencio said being a part of the Cardinals broadcasting team has been a dream come true and thanked the fans for supporting him and Molina.
Ascencio was also kind enough to answer the following questions for the benefit of our Spanish-speaking audience:
- What does it mean to you as a Latino to bring the game to your community?
- What is the Latino baseball community like in St. Louis?
- How do you like working with Bengie Molina?
- What message do you have for other Latinos who may be nervous to take a chance?
- What message do you have for the Cardinals fans who have welcomed you?