Double Bear Oscar Budejen is in his second year as the team’s Spanish-language radio play-by-play announcer, talking fans through the twists and turns of the regular season and now the postseason.
“Nobody expected us to be here,” he said. “Every play, every out, every pitch is an opportunity to win or lose a game. It could make the difference between you being a world champion or being number two.”
Budejen has decades of Spanish-language sports broadcasting experience covering the MLB, NFL, college football and NBA. His work with the Phillies was recently featured on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. At the same time, he holds a successful career in business marketing, growth and strategy.
He was an undergraduate student at Mercer when he embarked on these parallel paths.
Born in Venezuela to a Lebanese father and Cuban mother, Budejen grew up listening to sports broadcasts on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, now known as the American Forces Network.
“That’s how I learned English, just through a shortwave radio listening to football games and college games and Major League Baseball games,” he said.
In the summer, he often went to the U.S. to visit his grandparents, who had moved from Cuba to Atlanta. During these visits, he attended Braves games and found a second home. After graduating from high school, he moved to the city and attended classes at Georgia Tech for one year while he perfected his English.
In 1981, Budejen enrolled at Mercer to pursue a career in business, studying management, marketing, economics and finance on the Atlanta campus. While there, he noticed the CBS Spanish-language television program in Atlanta provided news but no sports. He offered to fill that gap and became its Spanish-language broadcaster.
Budejen often attended Falcons’ football games, sitting in the upper level near the boxes, so he could listen and learn from coaches radioing information to the sidelines.
“I’ve always been kind of a student of the game, so I studied baseball, and I studied football,” he said.
Budejen graduated with his Bachelor of Business Administration from Mercer’s School of Business in 1985. In 1986, he earned his Master of Business Administration.
He quickly landed a job with Procter & Gamble in Venezuela, where over the course of a decade he rose to the position of associate director of marketing, overseeing health care, beauty care and laundry products. Meanwhile, he began to announce NFL games for a television station in Venezuela. That later expanded to announcing MLB, NBA and NFL games across Latin America. He also broadcasted MLB games on the radio.
Traveling the world with Coca-Cola
Budejen’s two worlds collided when Coca-Cola offered him a job as director of global marketing, managing the company’s partnerships in sports and entertainment, including Disney, the NBA and the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball “Dream Team.” He moved back to Atlanta, and soon, Coca-Cola started assigning him more sports.
“I was managing the FIFA World Cup. I was managing the NBA, the Rugby World Cup. I was managing a lot of different properties globally for the company,” he said. “So, it was an opportunity to merge my passion for sports together with my marketing background that I started at Mercer.”
For about five years, Budejen traveled around the world, implementing marketing programs in about 100 countries. Among the projects he worked on was the marketing of Sprite with the NBA, which included signing deals with players like Grant Hill and Kobe Bryant.
“Sprite was all about trusting your instincts, and one of the best personifications of trusting your instincts are the NBA players,” he said.
After about five years, Budejen left Coca-Cola and consulted for a time. He later moved to Philadelphia to work for Aramark, holding positions as vice president of strategic marketing for corporate strategy and development and vice president for channel growth and marketing in the health care and higher education sectors. He left after 12 years.
Joining the Phillies
When Bill Kulik, one of the members of the Phillies’ Spanish-language broadcasting team, asked Budejen to join the Phillies as their play-by-play Spanish-language broadcaster, he jumped at the chance.
Through his role with the Phillies, Budejen started the Phillies Latino Heroes, an award honoring everyday Latinos who are making a difference in the community.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” he said.
Last year, Budejen also started calling Philadelphia Eagles games in Spanish.
These days, he splits his time between his job as vice president of strategy, growth and customer experience at consulting firm Fidelum Partners and his broadcasting roles.
He often starts his business work at 7 a.m., “but when 4 o’clock comes up, everything is about my sports world,” he said.