Houston baseball fans are hanging on to dreams of a championship. Last night, the Astros beat the Atlanta Braves in the fifth game of the World Series. It was a must-game win for the team, and they return to Houston for game six on Tuesday.
While the Astros’ World Series run has brought increased attention to the team’s star players, Astros staff are also getting noticed. The team’s Spanish interpreter, Andrew Dunn-Bauman, has become a familiar post-game sight, assisting the team’s Spanish-speaking players with media interviews.
Dunn-Bauman spoke to the Texas Standard about his path to the role. Listen to the interview with him in the audio player above or read the transcript below to learn more about life as a Major League interpreter.
Texas Standard: I understand you grew up in Wisconsin and you are not a native Spanish speaker. How did you end up with this gig? This is quite an honor to be the Spanish translator.
Andrew Dunn-Bauman: Yeah, it really is. I have to pinch myself most days, especially once we got to this stage. Very appreciative to have the opportunity to be here. I grew up a Brewers fan. I was just a diehard baseball fan. Then, in college, I wanted to find some kind of way to get involved in sports. So I actually started out in the broadcasting side, doing some sports radio internships. I parlayed that into a baseball operations internship with the Rays down at their rookie league near Tampa. I was working really closely with a lot of Latin guys, a lot of young Latin kids, 16-17 years old, who were fresh from Venezuela, the Dominican [Republic], Colombia, and they spoke hardly any English at all. And at that point I did speak any Spanish, but I was driving them in the van every morning to the complex and we had no way to communicate. And I thought this is kind of strange, I’d like to be able to communicate with these guys. So that off-season I moved down to San Miguel and Querétaro in Mexico and spent five months down there in full immersion. And that’s how the ball got rolling.
What’s a day in the life like for a Spanish translator for the Astros?
Andrew Dunn-Bauman: Well, there’s a lot going on, especially with the number of guys that we have. We’ve got seven or eight guys who lean on me for translation if they need to have any kind of media interviews and then another handful of guys that just want me there just in case, to throw them a word here and there. So we get to the ballpark around one o’clock for a seven o’clock game. I’m actually tasked with a lot of other things. It’s not just the translation side. They really have me in a lot of different areas. I do some advanced scouting and I also do the in-game instant replay for the Astros. So I’m really pulled in a bunch of different directions as soon as I get to the park.
Do you get to see the games or are you running around backstage?
Dunn-Bauman: I do, but not live. I haven’t seen a live baseball game in like three years now, which is the strangest part of it all to me. I’m locked in the video room watching all the instant replay. We have like 15 different angles, so I’m in there reviewing all the angles in-game. I’ve seen every pitch of the year, just not one in person.
When you are translating something in real time, at a press conference for example, how much do you think about the tone of what you’re saying in addition to the content? That’s got to be kind of hard.
Dunn-Bauman: Yeah, it is. I think that’s one of the toughest parts. You’re so wrapped up in trying to do them justice, as far as what the words are that the tone becomes kind of secondary in nature. But yeah, that’s a huge part of it. I try to do my best. I think it also depends on the relationship I have with the player. The better that I know him, the more I know what he’s getting at and what he’s trying to express with the words and the tonality that he uses. So I think that comes with time. I think I’ve gotten better, especially with some of the guys I’ve been around since last year. We just know each other well enough that I can put a little bit of more of the spirit into it and capture the whole essence of what he’s saying.
Does it help to have a notepad? Do you try to scribble stuff down?
Dunn-Bauman: Some guys do. I don’t. I feel like if I’m writing down words, I’m going to miss what comes directly after that. So I just kind of stare at them and try to capture as much as I can.
What’s it been like to be with the team during this run to the World Series?
Dunn-Bauman: It’s been incredible. The players always talk about how it’s a dream come true to be on this level and to be playing in the World Series. It’s honestly just as exciting for me to just be around the team. It’s crazy. You go through the grind of 162 games in the regular season and you kind of get used to it after a while. Then all of a sudden, you flip a switch and go to the post-season and it’s just an entirely different animal with all the media, all the attention, all the excitement around the games.
What’s next for you? Is there a career trajectory for baseball translators?
Dunn-Bauman: It depends where you fall. A dream of mine is to be in the dugout in the game, especially having not seen any live baseball for the last couple of years. So I think there may be some other things that I can contribute on that side and maybe help translate some analytics to some of the Latin guys in the dugout. So that is a potential, but I’ve been so wrapped up in the run that we were making I haven’t really thought about what’s next.