*(CNN) — Fred Hickman, a pioneering sports broadcaster and anchor who helped to launch two major cable networks and influenced and informed a generation of sports journalists and fans, has died. He was 66.
Hickman was one of the earliest employees of CNN. On June 1, 1980, the network’s first day on the air, he and Nick Charles were the first hosts of “Sports Tonight,” the 11 pm ET sports news and highlights program which competed with ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” often winning the time slot.
He stayed with CNN and Turner Sports for most of the next 21 years.
In 2001 he moved to the YES Network, the regional sports network that airs Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games, among other programming. He was the first anchor to appear on the network’s initial broadcast on March 19, 2002, and its lead anchor for the network’s first three years.