One of ESPN’s longest-running on-air talents and a memorable voice for countless sports moments has been silenced as John Saunders has died. He was 61.
The Canadian was a junior hockey All-Star and played one game at Western Michigan before a career in broadcasting that began in 1978. He joined ESPN in December 1986 where he had worked ever since as a SportsCenter anchor, studio host and the lead for shows such as The Sports Reporters.
“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” said John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, in a statement. “His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
“He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”
Although many ESPN personalities have appeared on trading cards in recent years, Saunders has just one — a card in the 1989 Pro Set Announcers set. That was a one-per-pack insert in 1989 Pro Set Series 2 — an affordable but landmark set for media members on cardboard as it showcased the NFL broadcasters for all networks at the time.
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