Eagles fans might struggle to describe the way they felt Sunday night when a last-second field goal double-doinked off the goal posts to give Philly a miraculous playoff win.
But if they could channel that cocktail of emotions into sonic form, it would probably sound something like this:
Ricky Ricardo delivers one of the greatest play-by-play calls I’ve ever heard. pic.twitter.com/7715OF5Mxl
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) January 7, 2019
That is the now-viral call of Cody Parkey’s missed kick by Rickie Ricardo, the Spanish language radio announcer who has called Eagles games over the past eight years.
For reasons that should be obvious to anyone with ears and a pulse, Ricardo’s call quickly caught fire on the internet. His volcanic enthusiasm perfectly captured the gut-churning tension of a game that went from likely defeat to certain victory in seconds.
The version posted to twitter by the official Eagles en Español account already has about 65,000 views. But that count doesn’t include other viral tweets containing the call.
This isn’t the first time one of Ricardo’s calls made digital ripples.
When Eagles kicker Jake Elliott nailed a seemingly impossible 61-yarder to lift Philly over the New York Giants last year, Ricardo’s “si, señor” call delighted fans around the globe.
The similarity between the two calls is no accident. Ricardo has been saying “si, señor” or “no, señor” when making field goal calls for years now. It’s one of his signatures, and it speaks to his philosophy as a broadcaster.
Keep it simple.
It’s a philosophy born out of his peculiar place in the football universe — a man trying to translate this uniquely American sport for international ears.
“You don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar to know that if I yell ‘no, señor’ the guy missed the kick,” he said Monday from his part-time home in Florida. “And if I yelled ‘si, señor,’ the guy made the kick. It’s full of energy. And people have gotten hooked on it. And they enjoy it. And I love giving it to them.”
The person behind the call may be even more interesting than the call itself.
Born in Newark, New Jersey to immigrant parents who fled the Castro regime in Cuba, Jorge Lima, Jr. started in radio when he was 19. After six months working at an “orange grove disco station in Orlando,” Lima captured the attention of New York radio legend Frankie Crocker.
Before he hit 20, Lima had a gig in New York City and a new name. It was Crocker who dubbed him Rickie Ricardo, a play on his middle name, “Ricardo,” and the famous Cuban-American television character, Ricky Ricardo.
Ricardo spent much of his early career as a DJ on English-language radio stations. He also worked as Rick James’ touring emcee, according to an ESPN profile. His first sports gig didn’t come until 2005 when he called baseball games for the Miami Marlins. That led him to a similar post with the Philadelphia Phillies and eventually full immersion in the world of sports radio.
Today, he calls games for the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Eagles while hosting English-language sports talk shows for WFAN in New York and WIP in Philadelphia.
“I’m kind of a crossover guy,” he said. “I’m the Spanish guy that speaks English that people relate to and get a kick out of when he does his thing in Spanish.”
Ricardo is the sports radio version of a two-way cultural bridge. He connects the world of American sports with the world of Spanish speakers, and it’s his distinctive point of view that birthed the “si, señor” catchphrase.
Because for Ricardo, simplicity is a linguistic imperative.
Many of his listeners are recent immigrants just picking up the game, or fans from Central or South America who may be less familiar with the nuances. He is their ambassador to the most popular sport in the United States, and he’s cognizant of that when he calls games.
“For someone that’s learning the game and learning it on the radio, I try to make it very, very simple,” Ricardo said.
He also wants his broadcasts to appeal to the sons and daughters of immigrants — many of them bilingual — as well as native English speakers dropping in for the occasional viral video. There are only so many combinations of words that check all of the above boxes. But inspiration struck when Ricardo was calling an Eagles-Giants game early in his football broadcasting career and he heard Giants announcer Bob Papa.
“His call for a field goal when it’s good is very simple, Ricardo said. “It’s up and away. True blue.”
“So I said how can I do something simple that the Spanish listener doesn’t have to decipher in their head, somebody bilingual understands, someone who has no clue what I’m talking about understands in a very simple way,” he recalled. “And I came up with the very basic ‘si, señor,’ ‘no, señor.’ ”
The phrase stuck, and so did Ricardo.
For almost a decade now, he’s been the only person to call Eagles games in Spanish.
Thanks to the missed kick he helped immortalize, Ricardo’s football duties will extend another week. The Eagles will take on the heavily favored New Orleans Saints next weekend, and Ricardo will be on the mic again.
“We’ll be in the French Quarter Saturday night and the Spanish booth Sunday afternoon,” he said.