Fred Hickman, The Original YES Network Broadcaster, died at 66

Longtime sportscaster Fred Hickman passed away on Wednesday at the age of 66. In 2002, he was the first person to be seen and heard on the YES Network.

A cause of death is yet to be disclosed.

“Fred was a joy to work with and a joyful person,” Yankees announcer Michael Kay said in a statement. “A total pro that you felt comfortable with knowing he would lead you the right way on the air. He was the first voice ever heard on YES and his professionalism put us on the right track, a track we are on all these years later.

“This is really sad news and Fred will be missed by all who knew him and worked with him. Condolences to his family. RIP Fred.”

Hickman may be best remembered for his work on “Sports Tonight,” a competitor highlights program to “SportsCenter,” which he would eventually lead on CNN. Two CableACE awards and a New York Sports Emmy were given to him.

In two stints beginning in 1980, Hickman and Nick Charles co-anchor more than 3,000 episodes of “Sports Tonight.”

“Nick and I have been together for how long? I suppose since I don’t go home,” Hickman said in a 1994 Sports Illustrated interview. 

Fox Sports South

Hickman has worked for Fox Sports South, WVUE in New Orleans, WVLA-TV in Baton Rouge, and most recently WDVM-TV in Maryland. He also worked for these stations later in his career.

Additionally, he established Fred Hickman Communications, Inc. to offer media training to athletes, coaches, and front office staff as well as broadcasting instruction for retired athletes.

Social media was flooded with tributes to the venerable sportscaster, including posts from ESPN anchor Hannah Storm.

“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.”

YES Network President of Production & Programming John J. Filipelli said, “His legacy, besides being one of extraordinary accomplishment, was — as a person — his dignity, grace, and kindness to all who were fortunate to come in contact with him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this most difficult time.” 

Fred Hickman’s early life and education.

George Henry and Louise Winifred Hickman welcomed their first child, Hickman, on October 17, 1956, in Springfield, Illinois. Following his 1974 graduation from Springfield Southeast High School, he studied sociology at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1974 to 1978 and received a B.S. in the subject. He was employed by the low-power radio station KCOE-FM at the time.

Fred Hickman’s career.

American broadcaster Frederick Hickman most recently served as managing editor and anchor for the evening program of the African-American cable news network Black News Channel. He has as well worked for CNN, TBS, YES Network, and ESPN. He was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and graduated in 1978.

In the year 1980, he initiated hosting Sports Tonight on CNN as one of the show’s original co-hosts. He won a New York Sports Emmy Award in 2004 and was honored with CableACE honors in 1989 and 1993.

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At KLWW-AM in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Hickman launched his professional radio broadcasting career in 1977 as a news anchor. After graduating from Coe College, Hickman relocated to Springfield, Illinois, where he took a job as the country music DJ at radio station WFMB-AM. Hickman joined Springfield television station WICS-TV as an anchor and sports director in February 1978 at the age of 22. He remained there through May 1980.

Fred Hickman’s wife and children.

Fred Hickman was a happily married man to his dear wife Sheila Hickman. They got married on July 1, 2007. Fred Hickman leaves behind 2 children.