ESPN HistorySportsCenter

Chris McKendry remembers: A pressure-packed SportsCenter debut, an ‘original’ anchor’s fan letter and an ‘energized’ colleague

Chris McKendry on the set of SportsCenter. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Chris McKendry on the set of SportsCenter.
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

While her “assignments” include two-week stays in venues ranging from Paris and Melbourne (to host tennis’ Grand Slam events) to Williamsport, Pa. (for the Little League World Series), Chris McKendry also has plenty of perspective on her Bristol-based experiences as a SportsCenter anchor.

Those memories include debuting on air with breaking news, receiving a welcome fan letter from an ESPN “original” and working with an anchor with a “monstrous” thirst.

2001: SportsCenter host Chris McKendry. (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
2001: SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry.
(Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

Most vivid anchoring memory:
My first SportsCenter — July 1996. It was a scheduled 30-minute solo anchor, the Saturday 10 a.m. ET show. Until the Atlanta Olympic Park bomb went off! I sat down in the chair and Norby Williamson [now Executive Vice President, Programming & Acquisitions] is the voice in my ear. He said, ‘Chris, the show is now an hour and I’ll be producing.’ I then look up and see John Walsh [now an Executive VP and Executive Editor] in the studio. I thought, “This could be the one SportsCenter of my life. Lord help me!” Thankfully, I did all right.

Other memorable breaking news:
[San Francisco Giants slugger] Barry Bonds’ indictment. It was hours on the air by the seat of my pants. George Grande [an original SportsCenter voice who signed on for ESPN on Sept. 7, 1979] sent me a letter after that show. I treasure it.

Favorite co-anchors:
“Well, I had [former SportsCenter anchor] Jack Edwards out of the gate – 1996-99 or so. He’s a character — a bit like sitting next to a volcano. Trey Wingo, Kenny Mayne and I had a short-lived run on the 6 p.m. ET edition in 2001-02 – we had too much fun. And of course, John Buccigross, one of my all-time favorites. He always had my back, and could make me laugh. By Hour 3, he had consumed two [energy] drinks.

Favorite This is SportsCenter commercial:
[Heavyweight boxer] Evander Holyfield telling [former SportsCenter anchor] Charley Steiner to “Come on out and get your whupping!”

During commercial breaks I. . . :
. . . check news wires, web sites, blogs and Twitter for news or updates. I snack and chat with our analysts or my co-host. And, if there is a tennis tournament on, I watch it.

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