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Dodgers' Newest Voice, Stephen Nelson, Will be MLB’s Only Asian American Play-by-Play Announcer

A man of Japanese American heritage with dark eyes, short salt-and-pepper hair and a close-cropped salt-and-pepper beard and moustache smiles at the camera. He is wearing glasses with a dark frame.
Stephen Nelson will call more than 50 games for the Dodgers next season.
(Courtesy of the L.A. Dodgers)
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Stephen Nelson, 33, is the newest play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers. The team says he'll be the only Asian American announcer in Major League Baseball.

Nelson will serve as a fill-in for lead announcer Joe Davis, and call more than 50 games in the upcoming season.

Why it matters

Nelson will become one of the most high-profile Asian American sportscasters in the country, working for a team that counts two of the game's icons among its former broadcasters: Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín.

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Why now

The Dodgers need a strong fill-in for their Dodgers' main play-by-play voice, Joe Davis, who is also Fox Sports' lead baseball announcer.

Why this is a historic hire

No other MLB team has an Asian American broadcaster calling games. Nelson describes himself as a proud yonsei — fourth-generation Japanese American — who once used the Japanese he learned going to language school in the South Bay to help honor Shohei Otani at an awards event.

Lack of diversity in the announcer's booth

Nelson criticized the "embarrassing lack of representation" in announcers' booths. In terms of full-time English-language play-by-play announcers of color working in the MLB, he pointed to Dave Sims, who does the TV broadcasts for the Seattle Mariners, and Robert Ford, who calls games on the radio for the Houston Astros.

"Ultimately my goal in this industry is to further pave the way for people that look like us to find futures in sports," Nelson said.

Nelson's connection to L.A.

The Southern California native, 33, grew up mostly in Huntington Beach and graduated from Chapman University. He and his family — wife Cori Coffin, a news anchor and an 18-month-old boy — will relocate in the next couple months from New Jersey.

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Piece of random trivia

Nelson grew up loving his father's favorite team, the Chicago White Sox. He said that's the only team that would make him question his allegiance to the Dodgers. Otherwise, "I'm all in, 100% Dodger blue."

Have a question about Southern California's Asian American communities?
Josie Huang reports on the intersection of being Asian and American and the impact of those growing communities in Southern California.