Having a Ball

What is the career path for a University of Arizona political science student who moonlights as a receptionist for the Board of Supervisors during Pima County's most unruly times, the topsy-turvy Republican-controlled government going back seven to 10 years ago?

That's an easy one, at least when demonstrated by Francisco Romero, the gracious, smart and talented sports anchor for Telemundo, KHRR-TV 40 in Tucson. Romero, whose comprehensive and fast-paced reports can be seen weeknights at 5 and 10, also is an emerging talent in the rapidly expanding Spanish-language Major League baseball broadcast business. After broadcasting Tucson Sidewinders games and working Arizona Diamondback games for two seasons, Romero has been the Spanish-language voice for the Milwaukee Brewers on weekend home games for the past two seasons. He also is the on-air talent for Spanish-language radio broadcasts for Arizona Wildcat football and basketball games on the Nogales station XENY.

You grew up in Mexico?

I grew up in Nogales, Sonora. I went to school there until I was 12 and we moved here. My dad worked at Magma in San Manuel. You just missed him and my mom here today.

Where did you go to school here?

First Maxwell then Wakefield Junior High and then Pueblo High School.

Another in a long line of successful Ph.D.s--Pueblo High Diplomas.

Class of 1987. I ran cross country and track.

No baseball?

I played all the time in Nogales. My father got us started. We always played. But up here, at that time you needed to be in Little League and work through all the way up. If you didn't play Little League you were kind of out.

What hooked you to baseball most?

The 1981 Dodgers and Fernando Valenzuela.

You have another Dodger inspiration.

Yes, Vin Scully. I met him when I was working for the Diamondbacks during their second season in 1999. I saw him again in Milwaukee when I was doing a Brewers-Dodger game. I went up to him and said hello and said "You probably don't remember me, but ..." and he said "Oh, Francisco, how are you?" I froze at first, but we talked a little bit. He's very nice and has been a real inspiration.

You worked the Board of Supervisors a little like Scully, gracefully.

Despite all the fights then--the fighting and the arguments at the meetings--it was like family. Everybody got along upstairs when the meetings were over. I got hired by Republicans and they were my bosses, but I hung out with the Democrats. But we all got along. And so did they. They all talked. And I learned a lot. I learned from them and then from interacting with the public and the media and all the reporters.

After you finished up there and school, did you go right to broadcasting?

No. I worked for the Arizona-Mexico Border Health Foundation. I was and am very passionate about border health issues. From there, I went to Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.

How did you break into radio and television?

Mike Feder was the general manager of the Sidewinders and he hired me as the director of Hispanic marketing. I also did some broadcasts of local games. In Phoenix one game, I stepped in for a guy.

And the UA?

I approached (athletic director) Jim Livengood directly. He opened his door to me. I told him there was a huge interest for Spanish-language coverage. We do the home games. And we've gone to L.A., to the NCAA tournament, the Pac-10 tournament. Football is good when you have good color commentary. And basketball is great because the UA is so good. But baseball is my passion.

How is it in Milwaukee? You like your brats and High Life? It's great. I love it. People here wonder about it. They ask me about going there like it may not be nice. But it is great. The people of Milwaukee really support their sports. And the ballpark is beautiful.

Among the increased Spanish speaking immigrants there, many are from Mexico, right?

Yes and all over, the Spanish language market and Mexican-American market is a giant that is not sleeping. We spend money. We work and we spend. When we go to a ballgame, it isn't alone and we spend. When we go out to eat, it isn't alone and we spend.

Is the game as lyrical, poetic in Spanish?

I don't know. We have our own terms. A strike out is chocolate. A home run is a gran cuadrangular.