The ESPN community is saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry McKinnis, the longtime host of ESPN’s first outdoors show, The Fishin’ Hole, and a prominent and popular commentator on other fishing and outdoors programming. He was 82.
McKinnis began his TV career at KATV in Little Rock, Ark., in 1964, and The Fishin’ Hole aired from 1980 until 2007. Among the many well-known guests were his friends, college basketball coach Bobby Knight, former baseball managers Davey Johnson and Whitey Herzog, and Hall of Famers Bobby Orr, John Havlicek and Ted Williams.
McKinnis was also involved with outdoors programming that appeared on ESPN networks, including through his purchase with other investors of BASS from ESPN in November 2010.
In addition, he hosted other select programs on ESPN, including Great American Events, which featured Soap Box Derby, the Duck Calling Championship and the Texas Rattlesnake Roundup, among other subjects. McKinnis has also made two appearances on Late Night with David Letterman.
A native of St. Louis, McKinnis was born June 14, 1937. He played four years as a pitcher in the Kansas City Athletics farm system (1955-1959) and worked as a fishing guide before entering television.
Andy Hall contributed to this post.