Raider fans in cities across Nevada and California have tuned their radios to hear Harry Ruiz’s enthusiastic voice cut through the airwaves as he’s offered live narration for the team’s inaugural season in Las Vegas.
Other fans in Chicago, Texas and Florida have told Ruiz they listen online, as does his mother, who in Mexico tries to sync the radio signal to the TV.
Ruiz is the color commentator for Deportes Vegas 1460AM, a Lotus Broadcasting Corp. station affiliated with the Raiders. He also runs several Raiders social media accounts, where he pumps out material exclusively in Spanish.
This past Sunday, Ruiz and narrator Cristian Echeverria referred to the Chiefs as “Los Jefes,” and the Raiders as “Los Malosos,” an endearing nickname coined by Mexican journalist Fernando Von Rossum in the 1980s, which translates to “the mean ones.”
Ruiz, 32, was hired a month before the season began. It was “a dream come true” since the Raiders have been his team since a “crazy uncle” introduced him to the Silver and Black when he was a young boy.
For this Spanish-speaking sports radio personality, support for the team transcends geography: “Raider Nation is worldwide,” he says. Before moving to Las Vegas, the team was most popular in California and Mexico, where the NFL has increased its footprint.
“I take it as a huge responsibility to do my best,” Ruiz says. “It’s my team, so I want to be able to be that bridge that connects the Raiders with their Hispanic fan base, with their Latino fan base, their Chicano fan base.”
It’s not hard to see why the Raiders have legions of supporters in Latino communities.
They’re transcendent, says Ruiz, explaining how it is the team of Tom Flores, the first Latino head coach to win a Super Bowl, and Jim Plunkett, still the only player of Hispanic descent to be the championship’s MVP.
“They’re a very inclusive team,” Ruiz says. “And that absolutely goes for the Latino community as well, which embraces them in a huge way.”
For Ruiz, his fandom is much simpler. The Raiders were once his home team.
Born in Los Angeles, Ruiz grew up loving sports. On his Nintendo, Sega and PlayStation, he would play as his favorite athletes. He was young when the Raiders packed up and returned to Oakland.
About four years later, in 1998, Ruiz’s family moved to Mexico. His uncle would visit and bring Raiders jerseys, T-shirts and hats. When the game wasn’t on TV, Ruiz followed on radio and other game trackers.
He didn’t catch a Raiders game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when he was a boy, and didn’t get to see a game in person until the year he moved back to the U.S. in 2010.
Ruiz has been to two Raiders games in Mexico City, one in a professional capacity and the other as a fan. Before his new job, he never missed a game, whether it was sitting in his living room or at the Texas Hardcore Raiders Booster Club, an official organization when he lived in El Paso.
It’s incredible, he says about the “number of fans out there south of the border. The team connects with the Hispanic community in a very special way.”
Looking back at his upbringing, his career in sports journalism seems obvious. Ruiz has been in media since he was 19, on radio and working for the biggest TV broadcasting companies: Univision, Telemundo, and Televisa in Mexico.
A job with Telemundo brought him to Las Vegas two weeks before the NFL approved the team’s move here. Eventually, he went on to work with the Las Vegas Lights, but he was furloughed because of the pandemic.
This summer, he was looking for jobs outside Las Vegas, and now, as fate would have it, he is locked down for at least the inaugural Raiders season.
And he’s loving it.
Ruiz says: “Raider Nation is not from Oakland, they’re not from LA, they’re not from Las Vegas. The Raider Nation is worldwide, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Ruiz and Echeverria haven’t been able to broadcast from Allegiant Stadium, but they hope to Oct. 25 when the Raiders square off against Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When the team is away, they narrate from a Lotus station in Las Vegas.
Ruiz, his sisters and parents exchange pictures in a group message thread. Those who weren’t football fans before his job now wear Raiders gear and dedicate about three hours each week to listen to his voice.
“Fortunately, they’re all very happy, and I hope I make them proud,” Ruiz said.