Adrián Garcia Márquez is "La Voz de los Lakers" — the Spanish-language play-by-play man for the NBA's glamour franchise, with a slew of other high profile assignments in a career spanning two decades. And it all began, he says, with FIFA ‘95 on the Sega Genesis.
All Things Considered on National Public Radio has been running a series called "My Big Break" and this week it brought listeners Márquez's remarkable story.
In 1997, Márquez (pictured above, far left) was looking to land just a $50-per-game job as the play-by-play man for a very low-level pro soccer franchise in San Diego. Problem is, he had no demo tape. That's the coin of the realm in sports broadcasting, because there's no other way for a director to judge an applicant's work.
Márquez needed to whip up one fast. He had a VHS recording of a a soccer match —the final of the 1996 Copa Libertadores (South America's top club competition), but his call needed to be believable, with something atmospheric making it sound like he was there. He had a Sega Genesis with a copy of FIFA Soccer ‘95.
"I recorded the beautiful crowd chants that they had," he told NPR. "Because technology was advancing, so it sounded like a real soccer game. So I figured, I'll grab that crowd noise, and put it on the tape."
Márquez put the sound on a cassette tape, then hauled a boombox into his bathroom and played it over his improvised call of the match. It worked.
He got the job, then another, and so on. As the Spanish-language sports broadcast market exploded in the United States in the late 1990s and at the turn of the century, he had a foot in the door for a lot of new jobs, including assignments with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Athletics, and with huge networks like ESPN and Univision.
NPR has even more on how Márquez made his own luck, and how he confessed to faking the tape and was immediately forgiven. Go to the link if you want to hear a modern day Horatio Alger story. But he absolutely credits a video game with starting his career.
"I earned it. That's why I'm here," Márquez said. "And thank you, Sega FIFA '95."