John Saunders, a familiar face for anyone who’s watched ESPN for the last 30 years, has passed away at the age of 61, according to his colleagues at ESPN. Over the course of his career, he provided play-by-play for basketball, college football and hockey, hosted SportsCenter and other studio programs, most regularly The Sports Reporters.
Saunders was one of the most consistent, reasonable and comforting voices on the legendary network, and his absence will be felt by a great many sports fans. He was born in Toronto, and also was a play-by-play announcer for the Raptors for a few years. His cause of death has not yet been announced, and there was no public record of an illness he was battling. Regardless, though he was never a star at the network, his steadying presence was always welcome on screen. ESPN president John Skipper released a statement about Saunders filled with grief, which read in part:
“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 heart goes out to all the sports media professionals whose lives were touched by John, whose face and voice will stay with us in our memories.