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Bob Ley remembers: Earthquake, throwback SportsCenter and day trading

Host Bob Ley on the set of Outside the Lines.(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
Host Bob Ley on the set of Outside the Lines.(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Bob Ley is considered one of ESPN’s pioneers, having joined as a SportsCenter anchor on the network’s third day (Sept. 9, 1979). He has since become the face of ESPN’s award-winning and genre-leading journalistic endeavors, hosting Outside the Lines since its inception in May 1990. Away from the studio, Ley serves as on-site host of ABC and ESPN soccer coverage, including FIFA World Cup play.

Favorite SportsCenter memory?
While I’m tempted to cite the epic stories I’ve been fortunate to cover – breaking the details of the Pete Rose ban, the San Francisco World Series earthquake, the Mitchell Report, even the recent A-Rod PED suspension – or being the closest living witness, if not provocateur, of some of the epic Charley Steiner laughing spells [still under study by medical science] – my mind still returns to the series of “throwback” SportsCenters we did in conjunction with ESPN’s 25th anniversary.

2004: (L-R) George Grande, Bob Ley and Chris Berman on the SportsCenter "Old School" set used in 1984. (Rich Arden/ESPN)
Aug. 12, 2004: (L-R) George Grande, Bob Ley and Chris Berman on the SportsCenter “Old School” set. (Rich Arden/ESPN)

After the final one – there we were – Chris Berman, George Grande, producer Tom Reilly and me, sitting on the SportsCenter set at 2:30 a.m., drinking very expensive champagne out of very Styrofoam coffee cups, swapping stories and sharing memories we are fortunate to have.

Most memorable breaking news stories you covered on air?
The passing of Joe Paterno, on a Sunday morning, was the occasion which allowed us a number of hours to consider the complicated legacy and circumstances around the passing of this iconic coach. And I’ve always been very proud of my colleagues with me at Candlestick Park prior to Game 3 of the 1989 World Series, when an earthquake struck. We were able to be on the air within 15 minutes, providing the first national coverage of this story – a natural disaster for the Bay Area – through what we could see and report at the ballpark.

What’s the one story you would have loved to have covered on SC?
Jackie Robinson’s debut in the major leagues.

What do you do during commercial breaks?
Day trade on my phone, counter vicious rumors on Twitter, and have my many questions answered ever so promptly and accurately by the stellar staff of our on-duty Stats and Information Group.

20 years from now, SportsCenter will be. . .
An independent nation with UN membership, and a major player in the field of international diplomacy. And, the maker of a leading soft drink.

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