Fred Hickman Dies: Sports Anchor For CNN, Yes Network & ESPN Was 66

Fred Hickman, one of CNN’s original on-air personalities as co-host of the network’s Sports Tonight, has died a Kissimmee, Florida, hospital following a battle with cancer. He was 66.

His death was confirmed by CNN, which did not provide details.

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“Hard to explain the magic of Fred Hickman and Nick Charles on CNN’s Sports Tonight in the 1980s,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. “Two incredible broadcasters with beautiful chemistry. The program’s pacing was pitch perfect. Revolutionary.”

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In addition to his pioneering work at CNN — he was present on the network’s first day on air, June 1, 1980 — Hickman was the first anchor of New York’s regional YES Network in 2002. In 2004, he moved over to ESPN, where he was a host of SportsCenter through 2008.

Hickman began his TV broadcast career in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, after college. After two years at Springfield’s WICS-TV, he joined CNN.

Hickman’s first gig with the fledgling network was as co-host, with Nick Charles, of the late-night Sports Tonight. He would spend most of the next 21 years with CNN and Turner Sports.

After CNN, Hickman joined YES Network, the regional sports network airing New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games. As with CNN, YES was just getting started, with Hickman playing an early and central role as lead anchor for several years.

From YES he moved to ESPN, serving as a Sportscenter host and in other capacities from 2004 to 2008. After that, he joined Fox Sports South and Sport South Networks covering the Atlanta Braves through 2011. Most recently, he was an anchor and managing editor at Black News Channel.

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