Tampa Bay’s Blind Baseball Announcer

August 18th, 2009 by

(CBS) They call him “the volcano.” From the first pitch to the last out, Enrique Oliu, the Spanish voice of Tampa Bay Rays baseball starts talking – and doesn’t stop.

“When you listen to him talk, you can visualize what he’s saying,” says Rays fan Manny Carmona. “Now, the question is how does he visualize it?”

How indeed, when he’s never seen a single game. Enrique Oliu has been blind since birth.

Oliu told CBS News Correspondent Kelly Cobiella, “I see light and that’s about it. And the rest of it I just imagine what it would be.”
While his partner in the booth calls the play. While Oliu listens to the crack of the bat, and the sound of the crowd to fill in the colorful details.

“He listened to the radio when he was a kid and he heard the TV broadcast. And that’s what he always wanted to do. And he would never let anyone tell him he couldn’t,” says co-worker Mark Haze.

He talks to everyone, and soaks up everything.

“He’s talking to me about base running, and the instinct’s right there,” says Rays manager Joe Maddon. “How do you know about instincts without ever seeing a base runner, I have no idea.”

Oliu says there’s certain things that you just “feel, plus homework, plus everything else.”

Everything else includes an understanding wife, Debbie. They met eleven years ago on a blind date.

Every morning, she reads him the sports page. And every baseball evening, she whispers sweet statistics in his ear.

What’s truly remarkable is not how Enrique Oliu sees baseball, but how he sees himself.

He doesn’t think of himself as amazing.

“I think of myself as being a blind schmuck that’s been fortunate to get a microphone.”

He’s got a passion for life, as much as the game.


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