Monday marked ESPN’s 36th company anniversary – timed to the original network launch on Sept. 7, 1979. In celebration of the occasion, Front Row has published a school yearbook of sorts, highlighting the on-air commentators who have been with the company for 20 or more consecutive years. The list of hosts, analysts, reporters and other contributors – an impressive 52 people, in all – features some of ESPN’s most recognizable faces, including the “Senior Class” of Chris Berman, Cliff Drysdale, Bob Ley and Dick Vitale, all of whom have been with ESPN since that very first fall in 1979.
A handful of longtime ESPNers are specialists who have helped elevate coverage of specific sports – track & field’s Larry Rawson, softball ace Michele Smith, soccer’s Tommy Smyth and golf’s Andy North, Judy Rankin and Silvia Bertolaccini, who has also long been part of ESPN International coverage.
Some, like Pam Shriver and Patrick McEnroe – now central figures in ESPN’s US Open coverage – actually started their ESPN careers working select events during their own playing days. It is also worth noting that New York bureau reporter Kelly Naqi and reporter/host/E:60 correspondent Jeremy Schaap actually started with ESPN in off-camera roles before eventually moving into on-air positions.
While the post-Labor Day holiday ushers in a new academic year, it’s also a time to say thanks and congratulations to ESPN’s longest-tenured employees for their many years of service.
Graphics created by Kate Rosen
Mike Skarka contributed to this post