Lesley Visser Chris Berman Bill Raftery
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2017 - The American Sportscasters Association (ASA) was well represented at the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as ASA members Lesley Visser, a pioneer in women’s sportscasting, Chris Berman, one of the original voices at ESPN, and Bill Raftery, longtime college basketball analyst, were among those inducted during the all-star gala at the New York Hilton on December 12.
ASA President Lou Schwartz was also in attendance as a special guest of Ms. Visser, who serves on the association’s Advisory Board. Schwartz has been at the helm of the organization since 1980 and was glad that he could be on hand as these top sportscasters were acknowledged for their stellar careers.
"I had a great time visiting with old friends Lesley, Chris and Bill, all who have received well-deserved recognition as the best in our profession," Schwartz said.
Visser, who was voted the "Top Female Sportscaster of All-Time," by the American Sportscasters Association, is one of the most highly acclaimed female sportscasters in the industry. Her long list of “firsts” includes being the first and only woman to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame; the only female sportscaster to have carried the Olympic Torch; and the first woman to work on the network broadcasts of the Final Four, Super Bowl and the NBA finals.
Now in her 43rd year covering sports, Visser was the first woman hired by the Boston Globe as a sports reporter and later became the first female NFL beat writer covering the New England Patriots. She joined CBS Sports in 1984, eventually becoming the lead NFL reporter with legendary announcers John Madden and Pat Summerall, as well as Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.
Also inducted was Chris Berman, a two-time winner of the ASA’s “Sportscaster of the Year” award, and one of the founding fathers of ESPN. “The Boomer,” as he is known, joined the network just one month after its launch in 1979 as the anchor of the 2:30 am edition of Sports Center and never looked back. Berman embodied the role of a studio host, covering virtually every event and sport that ESPN had to offer. He spent 31 years hosting “Sunday NFL Countdown and 16 years at the helm of “NFL Primetime." Another of his longtime assignments was hosting the MLB Home Run Derby, where you could hear one of his many famous catchphrases, “Back, back ,back, back, gone!”
Bill Raftery, a Lifetime member of ASA, was also acknowledged for his nearly four decades covering college basketball. Raftery, a former standout player at LaSalle University and successful coach at Seton Hall, joined the sportscasting ranks in the early 1980s. He has worked for ESPN, Fox and TNT, not to mention covering 35 consecutive NCAA Tournaments for CBS. In 2015, he called his first Final Four on television as part of the primary announcing team alongside veteran play-by-play man Jim Nantz and analyst Grant Hill. Aside from his collegiate work, Raftery was also an analyst for the New Jersey Nets.
Rounding out the 2017 10-person induction class was Brent Musberger, a national TV voice for over 40 years who rose to prominence as the host of CBS’ “The NFL Today;" Allan "Bud" Selig, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball who expanded the use of instant replay and oversaw the launch of the MLB Network; Michael Weisman, an emmy-awarding winning producer at NBC Sports who was responsible for putting legendary announcer Bob Costas in a studio host role and created the announcer-coach position for ASA Hall of Famer Marty Glickman; Linda Rheinstein, the first female graphics operator in the industry and a leader in live graphics, post-production, and special effects during the late ’70s and ’80s; Stan Honey, a major figure in technological innovation in sports television who led the development of the yellow first-down line used in football and the ESPN K-Zone baseball pitch-tracking system; John A. Walsh, former ESPN Executive Editor who was instrumental in developing SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, ESPN The Magazine and The ESPYs; and Jack Simmons, former Manager of Planning at NBC Sports and Senior Vice President of Production Operations at Fox Sports who now helps veterans enter the sports television industry.
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