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Peter Gammons is leaving ESPN

Dec 8, 2009, 3:55 PM EDT

If the Yankees traded Derek Jeter to the Mets for two minor leaguers, about half of this media room would be running around like crazy.  About 15 minutes ago, the entire media room started running around like crazy.  Why? Because one of their own is getting dealt, and it’s a big big name:

Baseball Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons has decided to pursue
new endeavors and will no longer be a contributor to ESPN after this
week’s winter meetings.

Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production:

“As a print journalist moving to television, Peter was a pioneer who
became a Hall of Famer.  His contributions to ESPN will never be
forgotten.  We’re sad to see Peter go, but understand his desire for
new challenges and a less demanding schedule.”

The initial reaction among the media throng is shock.  He and other ESPN people were swarmed as soon as it started filtering through.  They are just as surprised as anyone. And confused: some have said that maybe he doesn’t want to be out chasing the story anymore, which hews to the corporate statement. Others, however, have said that he lives for this stuff and wouldn’t be leaving merely for a lifestyle change. Gammons hasn’t deviated much from his formal statement in hallway conversations, but it’s a pretty big hallway, so it’s not like he’s going to dish dirt out there to people he doesn’t know.

No one, however — including ESPN folks — would rule out the possibility that corporate politics is playing a part. Dealing with the ESPN suits in Bristol can be a headache. And perhaps money was an issue.  Gammons presumably makes a lot of money in a media world where ad revenue is shrinking.  No one seriously believes that ESPN would make Gammons leave if he didn’t want to, but many are prepared to accept the possibility that either (a) they asked him to take less money; or (b) he’s just had it with the World Wide Leader in Sports.

Not that those things are mutually-exclusive.

UPDATE: Gammons is headed to MLB Network, with an official announcement expected tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see if he also finds a new writing job, assuming the TV deal doesn’t include some work as well.

  1. Frisco Yankee - Dec 8, 2009 at 9:23 PM

    Glad to see the best baseball reporter coming to MLBN where he’ll be appreciated instead of thrown around between channels every night and sandwiched between the stories ESPN lives for, like one NBA punk posterizing another NBA punk or one of their know-nothing dumb broads trying to deliver a sports report. Now there is no reason to watch that crumby network anymore. Good for you, Peter.

  2. Donnie B. - Dec 8, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    This is fantastic!!! Good riddance. So glad I won’t have to listen to all Red Sox baseball analogy. I don’t watch the MLB Network and just another reason to never give it a try.

  3. B1 - Dec 8, 2009 at 10:55 PM

    Donnie B. you should give it a try.. your mom does all night long

  4. rob - Dec 8, 2009 at 11:20 PM

    espn is a joke

  5. Grant - Dec 8, 2009 at 11:36 PM

    I long ago gave up reading Gammons. Non story, as far as I’m concerned.

  6. Dan Olson - Dec 9, 2009 at 1:22 AM

    ESPN’s loss is MLB Channel’s gain. Gammons is as good as it gets. And yes…he is a Hall of Famer.

  7. Penwhale - Dec 9, 2009 at 1:37 AM

    With the change to ESPN’s focus regarding sports, it’s actually nice, I think, for Gammons to be on MLB Network. He can be more help there, I believe. (Granted I think he’d be nice addition to TBS’ coverage of the playoffs too.)

  8. Joerunner - Dec 9, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    Peter Gammons is essentially a print journalist, and a great one. I always enjoyed what he wrote far more than what he said on ESPN. BTW, he is in the Hall of Fame because of what he wrote and not for anything he did on ESPN. I never thought he belonged on ESPN and never thought he was comfortable there.
    ESPN has always seemed a place of shallow, glib, hot dogs, and not a place for people of intellect and passion for sport, like Peter Gammons. Actually in a way, I am glad he is leaving too. I hope he is.

  9. Aries - Dec 9, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    Where does it say that a baseball analyst can’t be a fan of a specific team? Don’t most people in the sport’s field grow up a fan of a certain team, and don’t those same people still have a favorite team as professionals? So what that he is a Red Sox fan? I live in the Midwest, and it’s very much pro-Cubs country. Even though I don’t like the Cubs, I still read the articles written about various sports, even if they have a Cubs-spin. I think most of the people complaining about Gammons either a) don’t like the Red Sox and find whatever reason to bash the team or people associated with the team or b) just want to complain and bash something. I hope Gammons ends up on MLBnetwork!

  10. PhillyJohn - Dec 9, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    ESPN should turn Gammons air time over to Jayson Stark, a reporter with an edge who gets more into the meat of the story, not just reporting that which is on the surface. I wish Gammons well, but his affinity for the RedSox always showed through.

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