Spanish announcer Villaman dies

Spanish announcer Villaman dies

BOSTON -- For the second time in a month, tragedy has struck the Red Sox family.

Juan Pedro Villaman, in his eighth season as the club's Spanish-speaking announcer, died early Monday morning in a car accident north of Boston as he was returning home from the team's weekend series in New York. He was 46.

"To tell you the truth, I don't even want to be here right now," said Villaman's broadcast partner, Uri Berenguer, from the pair's Fenway Park broadcast booth. "He was a great guy who loved the game and loved the people he worked with."

The Red Sox honored Villaman's memory with a moment of silence prior to Monday's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

Villaman joined the club's Spanish Beisbol Network in 1995 as a part-time broadcaster and has been a full-time voice of the Red Sox since 1999. In addition to his Red Sox play-by-play duties, Villaman hosted a local sports talk show north of Boston and was a favorite of Red Sox players and co-workers alike.

"He introduced himself to me when I first got here and always had a smile for you," said slugger David Ortiz. "He told me, 'I'm Dominican like you are.' He was always proud of what he was doing and always seemed to love being here."

Ortiz says that smile will always be a part of the memories he has for his countryman.

"Last Saturday, me, Manny [Ramirez] and Eno Guerrero were all in the clubhouse and he told us, 'You know, I love you guys.' And we all laughed and said, 'We know, we love you too,' and then we joked around with him. You could always do that with him. He was that kind of guy."

Villaman, born in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic, began his broadcasting career as a radio DJ in his hometown and began broadcasting baseball in his hometown in the 1980s.

"As the Red Sox' popularity in the Latino community surged in recent years -- with stars like David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez -- J.P. became a star in local and international baseball circles," Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino said in a press release. "They knew him as Papa Oso (Papa Bear) and they sensed through his broadcasts what those around the team saw every day; he loved the game and he loved his Red Sox.

"J.P. brought an infectious enthusiasm to the ballpark every day. His friends and family are, and will remain, in our thoughts and prayers."

Villaman made a brief but lasting impression on Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

"I really didn't know him that well which makes it harder to put all of this into words," Francona said. "I just know that every time I saw him he had a smile on his face and would always greet you. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Villaman won two Circulo Dorado (Golden Circle) awards in 2002 and 2005, presented annually by his hometown of Lawrence, Mass., for achievement in the local Latino community.

This is the second death to strike the Red Sox this month. On May 7, clubhouse attendant Bernie Logue died after falling from the sixth floor of a downtown Boston parking garage.

Villaman and Berenguer traveled with the team from New York to Boston after Sunday night's game and returned to Fenway before heading home. The accident occurred near exit 38 of Interstate 93 northbound around 3 a.m. ET on Monday. Villaman is survived by his wife, Noemi Santelises-Villaman, and their three children, Michelle (20), Juan Gabriel (18) and Bianca (12).

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.