Lou Palmer, ESPN's first ‘SportsCenter’ anchor, dies at 83

Written By Bob Hille
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Lou Palmer, the first anchor on newly launched ESPN's flagship "SportsCenter" in the late 1970s, has died. He was 83.

Palmer's death Friday in Wellington, Florida, was confirmed to ESPN.com by his daughter, Patty Puma-Conrad, who said he died after a battle with lung cancer.

"He was a friend and major contributor to building the strong foundation on which ESPN stands today," ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen said in a statement.

Palmer was hired by the network in 1978, a year before the ESPN officially was launched. He remained at ESPN until 1985.

Two of Palmer's original colleagues at ESPN — Chris Berman and Bob Ley — also remembered Palmer's contributions.

From Berman: "Lou Palmer was a wonderful radio and television professional, and an even finer gentleman. He was one of the few employees here at ESPN before we went on the air. His love for baseball jumped through the screen and became an early hallmark of 'SportsCenter.' Those of us who were young anchors — Bob Ley, (the late) Tom Mees and I — will forever be indebted to Lou for his guidance by example."

Ley called Palmer a "true ESPN original."

"He brought much-needed experience at the very beginning, a deep love of baseball, and the ability to write, anchor and bring authority to anything he touched," Ley said in a statement. "Lou was a joy to work with, a fellow Seton Hall Pirate, and in a newsroom where everyone had their nickname, he was universally known and loved as 'Sweet Lou.'"

Palmer also was one of the original studio anchors at WFAN Radio in New York.

He played baseball at Seton Hall and later in the New York Giants and White Sox farm systems, where he went by his given name, Lou Puma.

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