On the eve of its 30th anniversary, ESPN tonight will team the three SportsCenter anchors of longest service for a special version of the network's signature.
Bob Ley, Chris Berman and John Saunders will work together on a 90-minute show bowing Sunday Sept. 6 at 11:30 a.m. (ET). It will encore five times on Labor Day Monday Sept. 7, starting at 4:30 a.m. Live updates will be inserted over the course of the program's run through noon.
Mixed into the presentation of the sports news of the day will be a variety of interstitial segments:
The program will begin with a special opening that features four different looks from SportsCenter's evolution over the years. There will also be three short segments featuring the veteran anchors and their most memorable moments, along with the changes in their appearance and bloopers.
Moreover, each anchor will reflect upon their favorite moment in sports since 1979, which will also come into view, with a look back at sports and pop culture at the time when ESPN launched.
Additionally, the program will showcase former SportsCenter anchor Robin Roberts, now of ABC's Good Morning America, being interviewed SportsCenter pioneer Gayle Gardner.
Ley joined ESPN two days after its Sept. 7, 1979, launch, while Berman followed that October. Saunders came to ESPN in 1986.
SportsCenter, chronicling Chris Evert's win over Billie Jean King at the U.S. Open, was the initial show to air on ESPN, when it made its bow 30 years ago.
During its "media day" on Aug. 27 at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, the anchors served up the following soundbites:
* Saunders: "I remember my parents sitting me in front of the TV to watch Chris and Bob....just joking! I'm actually the oldest of the three. But between us we have more than 90 years in the business and over 83 years at ESPN. I am proud to have been part of it and excited to join two guys I sincerely respect and who I call my friends to celebrate SportsCenter's 30th year.
*Berman: "Thirty years is a long time, but then again, 1979 seems like yesterday. There are a ton of people who made ESPN's success possible, and I am thrilled to be sharing our anniversary SportsCenter with two of them, Bob Ley and John Saunders. Better yet, we'll be able to share it with the most important folks - our viewers - whether they've been with us for three decades or three months. I'm really looking forward to the evening."
* Ley: To borrow and adapt from rocker Bob Seger - '30 years, where'd they go?' The number has the feel of an ‘era' -- which may explain the grey hair and slower 40-yard times. But getting to work with Boomer and that short-timer Saunders - hey, John's only been here 23 years -- will be a real treat. SportsCenter's place in the national cultural conversation is something truly special - we treasure it and respect it - and SportsCenter's the perfect place to observe this milestone. I hope I can stay up that late. "