John Saunders (journalist)
Saunders providing play-by-play for University of Kentucky's 2015 Blue-White scrimmage
John Peterson Saunders|
February 2, 1955
Ajax, Ontario, Canada
August 10, 2016 61) (aged|
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Hastings-on-Hudson, New York|
United States of America
Western Michigan University (1974-76)|
Ryerson University (1976-78)
|Occupation||Sports journalist, television personality, commentator, announcer|
|Employer||The Walt Disney Company|
Baseball Night in America
The Sports Reporters
|Spouse(s)||Wanda Saunders (1987–2016)|
Early life and career
Saunders attended high school in Montreal. Saunders was an all-star defenseman in the Montreal junior leagues, received a scholarship and played hockey at Western Michigan University from 1974–76 with his brother, Bernie. He transferred to Ryerson University in Toronto and played for the Rams from 1976–78. After the 1977–78 season, Saunders was named to the Ontario University Athletic Association All-Star team.
He was the news director for CKNS Radio (Espanola, Ontario, 1978), and sports anchor at CKNY-TV (North Bay, Ontario, 1978–1979) and at ATV News (New Brunswick, 1979–1980). He also served as the main sports anchor for CITY-TV (Toronto, 1980–1982). He then moved to the United States to work as a sports anchor at WMAR-TV (Baltimore, 1982–1986).
Career at ESPN and ABC Sports
Saunders joined ESPN in 1986 and was the host of ESPN's The Sports Reporters, starting with the illness and subsequent death of Dick Schaap in September 2001. He previously co-hosted NFL Primetime from 1987 to 1989. He was also the studio host for the network's NHL broadcasts from 1992–93 until 2004, and was the studio host of ABC's coverage of college football from 1992 to 2015. He has also hosted ABC's coverage of baseball under the Baseball Night in America banner and was involved in ESPN's coverage earlier in his career. He also anchored the 1995 World Series for ABC.
Saunders' memoir, Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope, which spans his three-decade career at ESPN and ABC, was published posthumously in 2017.
From 2002 to 2004, and occasionally during the 2007 season, Saunders did play-by-play for ESPN's coverage of the NBA, mostly on Sunday nights. He was the studio host of ESPN's NBA Shootaround from 2004 to 2006.
John was an advocate for juvenile diabetes research and was a founding board member of the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research, a charity that has raised $200M with 100% of the charity funding cancer research. Saunders lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with his wife and children. He was the brother of former National Hockey League (NHL) player Bernie Saunders.
On August 10, 2016, Saunders' wife discovered him not breathing in their New York home. Emergency responders rushed to the scene, but around 4 a.m., he was pronounced dead. He was 61 years of age. Foul play was ruled out by authorities. Family members stated Saunders had not been feeling well in the days leading up to his death but no specific cause of death was publicly announced. John U. Bacon, who coauthored Saunders's autobiography, stated in the book that the coroner found that Saunders died from a combination of an enlarged heart, complications from his diabetes, and dysautonomia, which affects the nervous system which regulates breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Saunders's brain was donated to Mount Sinai School of Medicine for research as requested. On the August 8, 2017 edition of SportsCenter, John U. Bacon claimed that Saunders died of natural causes. Saunders was included in the "in memoriam" segment at the 2017 ESPY Awards.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-06-05. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
- "Hockey History: Player Register" (PDF). 2007-08 Western Michigan Hockey Media Guide. Western Michigan University Athletics. p. 80. Retrieved 2007-12-29.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-04-26. Retrieved 2006-05-30.
- Richard Deitsch (17 June 2017). "In posthumous memoir, John Saunders details depression struggles, suicidal thoughts". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-02. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Saunders, John; Bacon, John U. (2017). Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306824739.
- John Saunders' ESPN Bio
- ABC Sports - John Saunders at the Wayback Machine (archived June 5, 2004)
- John Saunders on IMDb
- John Saunders career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
| ABC's Wide World of Sports host