More Than Just the Score
Ace sportswriter and history alumnus Jorge Aranguré throws sports writing a curveball.By David Dorion MA ’94
January 27, 2010
Although ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer Jorge Aranguré Jr. ’97 remains concerned with these key components of sports reporting, deeper issues are at play in his features.
Aranguré-penned stories tend to reveal as much about the players as the game itself. These qualities in his work trace back to his undergraduate career as a history major in USC College, when richly detailed readings about historical events sparked his own interest in writing. In fact, writing moved Aranguré with such force he passed up law school to pursue a master’s in journalism from Syracuse University.
Though born in Tijuana, Mexico, where soccer or fútbol is king, Aranguré grew up in the baseball-loving San Diego area. Aranguré not only played, but avidly read about baseball in the newspaper.
His favorite sports writer growing up was the late Jim Murray, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
“Murray,” Aranguré explained, “was someone to always consider because he met the challenge of sports writing. The themes can be formulaic. Murray tried to build the theme into a feature.”
After stints with several papers, including the Washington Post, Aranguré arrived at ESPN The Magazine, where he soon learned one pressing fact about baseball and his place in baseball writing: Of all the players mentioned in the media, few were Latino.
This, of course, worked to Aranguré’s favor, as he was the magazine’s go-to guy when fluent Spanish was needed.
“There are many Latinos in the sport and I speak Spanish,” said Aranguré. “It’s only natural that I could get stories more freely than anyone else.”
Though he maintains there are some famous Latino baseball players, Aranguré also wants to give exposure to the lesser-known players from the region.
He recently profiled Aroldis Chapman, a Cuban pitcher who defected from his country’s national team in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, then fled to Spain, where Aranguré met up with him.
As Aranguré explained, his interest in Chapman went beyond the young Cuban’s baseball talents, to the plot that surrounded Chapman as a political lightning bolt.
“I’ve always been intrigued with Cuban defectors. I don’t think people realize what they have to do and what they leave behind to come make a living in the United States.”
Aranguré added that defection, as a political action, particularly in Cuba, is not widely understood by American baseball fans.
Of course to write such in-depth features, one needs a diet of continual reading, which in Aranguré’s case, includes everything from newspapers to fiction. From this, he gains not just knowledge and story ideas, but exposes himself to new ways to execute the written word.
But in the end, Aranguré maintains it all comes down to one’s own writing.
“People will always want good writing and journalism. In this business, one has to be persistent and always look to improve. If most everyone is good, you have to be even better.”
David Dorion is a 1994 graduate of the Master of Professional Writing Program.