Keith Olbermann’s Emotional Gwynn Tribute Draws Raves, Tears

Keith Olbermann has a soul after all. The sometimes acerbic voice box that got himself fired from left-leaning MSNBC for his political antics, and his constant butting of heads with network executives, and later lost his job at Current TV for many of the same reasons; who has burned almost every bridge he has ever built, and has now gone back to where he first found greater success with sports commentary on ESPN, has shown a softer, emotional side on his nightly ESPN2 program, Olbermann.

The usually smug Olbermann opened his show Monday night with a monologue and a video tribute to the San Diego Padres great Tony Gwynn, who passed away earlier in the day at the young age of 54 after a long fight with cancer. In his piece, Olbermann, who started his long career as a sportscaster for local television stations, recounted a few great Tony Gwynn stories–such as helping Gwynn meet legendary Yankee’s announcer Bob Sheppard before the 1998 World Series, or even the first time Gwynn and Olbermann met in a hotel in Southern California. Olbermann reflected on the person that was Tony Gwynn, and not just the superstar athlete whose career batting average sits fourth overall since 1930.

At the end of the segment, the usually stoic Olbermann begins to lose it, his voice cracking, his eyes fogging up with tears. The moment was heart-wrencing and beautiful, much like the segment itself. This was a man driven to tears at the loss of a person he considered a friend.

Tony Gwynn passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer. Gwynn was considered by many as “one of the good guys,” and his passing was felt all throughout the sports world. The Hall of Famer played in two World Series’ and won multiple Silver Slugger awards in his long, storied career.

Keith Olbermann has built a career on his wit, and helped usher in the era of the “snappy catchphrases” that ESPN’s nightly recap show, SportsCenter, was built on. Olbermann left ESPN in 1997 on rocky terms and switched to politics where he became a popular fixture on MSNBC. His show, Countdown, was seen as a counter to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. The two men waged war over the airwaves for years before Olbermann was fired after a series of very public issues came to light, including his donating money to political candidates, which is a journalistic no-no.

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