Fred Hickman Dies: Veteran Sports Broadcaster Was 66

Fred Hickman
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Fred Hickman, the veteran sports broadcaster who appeared on networks such as CNN, TBS, YES Network, and ESPN, has died. He was 66.

According to his wife, Sheila Hickman, Fred passed away peacefully in hospital on Sunday, October 16, after a battle with liver cancer. “A light has gone out,” she told CNN.

Born on October 17, 1956, in Springfield, Illinois, Fred began his professional radio broadcasting career as a news anchor at KLWW-AM in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he attended college from 1974 to 1978. He later returned to Illinois, becoming an anchor and sports director of the Springfield television station WICS-TV, where he stayed until May 1980.

In 1980, Fred joined the young cable television company TBS and became one of the first anchors on CNN. During the network’s first day on the air, June 1, 1980, he and Nick Charles presented Sports Tonight, the nightly sports wrap-up show which competed with ESPN’s SportsCenter and often won the time slot.

He remained with CNN and Turner Sports for most of the next 21 years, briefly leaving in 1984 to serve as a sports anchor for WDIV, the NBC affiliate in Detroit, Michigan. He returned to TBS in 1986, where he stayed until 2001, when he joined the YES Network as their original anchor, hosting the pre-game and the post-game shows for New York Yankees telecasts.

After his tenure at YES, Fred moved to ESPN in 2004, where he hosted SportsCenter through 2008. He then joined Fox, serving as the pre-game and post-game host for the Atlanta Braves broadcasts through 2011. More recently, he served as an anchor and managing editor at Black News Channel.

Fans and colleagues took to social media on Thursday (November 11) to share their condolences and tributes. “I was the only female anchor at CNN Sports, and Fred was such a welcoming presence…always with a laugh, a quip, a story…and supremely talented. Rest In Peace, my friend,” tweeted Hannah Storm.

“Had the privilege of working with him & Nick at CNN Sports. Huge talent with huge heart,” tweeted NBC Sports’ Dan Hicks, while Pittsburgh sports radio host Colin Dunlap added, “If you are about my age, he was one of the faces on your sports-crazy youth on CNN. He was a true OG in the field.”

He is survived by his wife Sheila and his children, Mack and Gabrielle.