When Steve Levy made his debut as a SportsCenter anchor, no one knew that the New York native would have such an impact on ESPN’s signature news and information program, and on the network itself.
Levy will be honored during Thursday night’s 11 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter as he begins his 25th year as an anchor, having been hired by ESPN on Aug. 1, 1993. He had been doing sports on TV in New York for several years so after a few days of indoctrination, he did his first SportsCenter at 2 a.m. ET on Aug. 7, 1993, with co-anchor Karl Ravech.
“There was no ESPNEWS, ESPN2 was just an idea, there was no ESPN Radio, no ESPN.com, so when you walked in the building, it was SportsCenter,” said Levy. “I was definitely nervous. In my memory, I was looking at the two-shot for my whole one-shot lead-in. I was out of my comfort zone. I was used to doing three minutes of sports, two-and-a-half minutes if you got squeezed by weather.”
Levy and Ravech, who now hosts ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and still occasionally anchors SportsCenter, traded some good-natured barbs about that first show.
“There’s that old adage in sports – you never forget your first,” said Ravech. “Well, actually, I was the first one that you did the show with. And I remember. . . absolutely nothing. It was that memorable.”
“Ravech was the big shot,” said Levy. “He did a big ‘Hey, we want to welcome Steve Levy to the team, blah blah blah,’ and he’d only been there about three months before me.”
Levy has hosted thousands of SportsCenters since then, as well as doing many other things for ESPN including his other current assignment of calling college football. And he’s known for calling the three longest televised games in NHL history.
But through it all, SportsCenter has been there. And Levy’s versatility now includes hosting SportsCenter on the ESPN App, a two-minute version of a program that has sometimes been more than 50 times that length.
“Obviously to go to ESPN is the greatest decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “It’s been so good, I’ve been treated great, and I’m still to this day the happiest anchor in the building.”