12,060 days after SportsCenter debuted on September 7th, 1979, ESPN airs the 50,000th episode of SportsCenter tonight at 6 PM ET. With the advent of live morning and afternoon SportsCenters, ESPN reached the 50,000 plateau rapidly, just 5 years after its 30,000th episode in 2007. To put that number in perspective, it was almost 20 years before ESPN reached the 20,000th episode.
ESPN has been publishing material on their Front Row website all week about the milestone episode tonight including a Q&A with executive producer Mark Gross, an interview with theme composer John Colby, a timeline of SportsCenter's history, and a look back at the first SportsCenter with anchor George Grande and ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen.
Tonight's 6 PM ET SportsCenter will be relatively low key in celebrating the milestone episode, featuring this touching tribute from Chris Berman to late SportsCenter anchor Tom Mees. Mees was one of the cornerstones of SportsCenter's earlier days and passed away tragically in 1996.
SportsCenter has evolved over the years and seen many changes (some better than others), but it has always remained ESPN's flagship program. Its success and longevity is a testament to the vision of what an all sports network is capable of producing and the work of people in front of and behind the cameras. ESPN certainly wouldn't be the global giant it is today without these 50,000 episodes of SportsCenter.