Fred Hickman dies: Sports anchor for CNN, Yes Network & ESPN was 66

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

His death was confirmed by CNN, which gave no details.

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

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In addition to his pioneering work at CNN—he was present on the network’s first day, June 1, 1980—Hickman was the first anchor of the regional YES Network in New York in 2002. In 2004 he transferred to ESPN where he was a host of Sports Center up to and including 2008.

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

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Hickman’s first appearance with the fledgling network was as co-host, with Nick Charles, of 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 that broadcasts New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games. As with CNN, YES was just getting started, with Hickman playing an early and pivotal role as the lead anchor for many years.

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From YES he moved to ESPN where he served as a Sports Center host and in other capacities from 2004 to 2008. He then joined TBEN Sports South and Sport South Networks for the Atlanta Braves until 2011. Most recently, he was an anchor and editor-in-chief at Black News Channel.

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