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Team Player: Buster Olney and Kenny Hartin

Olney says of his first base cameraman of some 30 years: ". . . From Day One, Year One, I've always felt like Kenny has been like a Sunday Night Baseball godfather for me"

Senior MLB Insider Buster Olney (L) and his Sunday Night Baseball “godfather,” cameraman Kenny Hartin. (Photo courtesy of Buster Olney/ESPN)

Front Row’s “Team Player” series hits the diamond this week as we catch up with senior MLB Insider and Sunday Night Baseball reporter Buster Olney.

Olney joined Sunday Night Baseball in 2011 and is now the longest-tenured member of the broadcast team. Since Day One, he has pointed to veteran cameraman Kenny Hartin as an individual who has played an integral role in helping him do his job to the best of his ability.

Hartin has worked on Sunday Night Baseball for all 30 seasons of the franchise, generally as the first base cameraman, which is where Olney is often situated. Known as a reliable, hard-working broadcast veteran, Hartin is Olney’s choice as his “Team Player.”

What makes Kenny your “Team Player?”
Picking one person out of our Sunday Night Baseball crew is just about impossible – it’s like picking among family members. It’s just that from Day One, Year One, I’ve always felt like Kenny has been like a Sunday Night Baseball godfather for me and he’s always looked to help me.

How does Kenny help you do your job to the best of your ability?
He’s very precise and prepared. From the first year that I was part of Sunday Night Baseball, in 2011, Kenny and the other cameramen have worked to make me as comfortable as possible.

It just so happened that in the first couple of years, I was almost always assigned to a spot right near Kenny’s station on the first base side, so he was like my babysitter at the outset, making sure I was in the right place, keeping me out of the sun when he could (because the sun is not my friend), drawing lines in the dirt to remind me where to set up (lines that I would immediately erase). And every so often, he’d say something nice, probably when he sensed that my own insecurity or frustration was gnawing at me.

It’s the crew’s 30th year of Sunday Night Baseball, and our friend Buster helps make it something special. His joy is baseball and he loves being at the ballpark. We love seeing him because he’s always smiling and ready to work, even in the blinding rain, cold and heat. There’s no pre-recording or second takes with Buster. He’s live and he takes on last-minute changes as a challenge to be won. I watch the respect he gets from players and coaches; everyone knows he’s the real deal. – Kenny Hartin’s take on Buster Olney

Could you describe a specific instance when Kenny went above and beyond to help you?
The first years I was on Sunday Night Baseball, we had some near-misses with foul balls, and after having a ball go right over my head, I asked about having some protective netting put in place wherever we could.

It was an unusual request, I knew, but years before, netting had been placed in front of the dugouts — and my feeling was, hey, if the players were in jeopardy on fouls, then I sure as heck was. Kenny has worked diligently to help facilitate this ever since, improvising with some kind of protective set-up and always checking with me to see if it’s O.K.

The Atlanta Braves visit the St. Louis Cardinals on the next edition of Sunday Night Baseball, May 26, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. For more information, visit ESPN Press Room.

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