Original ESPN reporter, anchor Lou Palmer dies at 83 after lung cancer battle

Original ESPN on-air commentator and former "SportsCenter" reporter and anchor Lou Palmer has died. He was 83.

Palmer's daughter, Patty Puma-Conrad, told ESPN that Palmer died Friday in Wellington, Florida, after a battle with lung cancer. 

He was hired a year before the network officially launched in 1985. According to station founder Bill Rasmussen, Palmer was part of the first live ESPN event in October 1978 — a "demonstration" feed of a University of Connecticut basketball event for network executives.

In a statement, ESPN said Palmer brought "a professionalism to the network that helped establish a rock-solid foundation for SportsCenter and our baseball coverage. ESPN extends its sympathy to Lou's family and the many people he touched during his accomplished career."

Palmer left ESPN in 1985 and went on to be one of the first studio anchors at WFAN radio in New York. He later served as a public-address announcer for minor league baseball games in Florida. 

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Lou Palmer, the first sportscaster hired by ESPN in 1978, has died. Tributes from Chris Berman, @BobLeyESPN and @Bill_ESPNhttps://t.co/4V5a2IJwbo

"He brought much-needed experience at the very beginning, a deep love of baseball, and the ability to write, anchor and bring authority to anything he touched," said Bob Ley, one of Palmer's ESPN teammates, in a statement. "Lou was a joy to work with, a fellow Seton Hall Pirate, and in a newsroom where everyone had their nickname, he was universally known and loved as 'Sweet Lou.'"

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