Buster Olney is signing a multiyear extension with ESPN, The Big Lead has learned. The reporter will return for his 11th season of Sunday Night Baseball, the third-longest tenure on the program behind Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. This will be the second season of the current broadcast team, which also includes Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez.
Olney will continue to contribute to SportsCenter, E:60, and other storytelling platforms.
"I don't want to work anyplace else," Olney said of his decision to stay with ESPN. "I'm having a blast."
Olney has been with the network since 2003 and hosts the Baseball Tonight podcast. As a native New Englander, he cites Peter Gammons as a hero, and never envisioned he'd one day stand in the same shoes. "The years have kind of flown by," he said of his decade-plus on the network's marquee broadcast, which remains the highest-profile in all of baseball.
Olney said he didn't know when he joined if the Sunday Night job would be a one- or two-year run or if it would be long-term. The answer, obviously, is the latter as his presence has been a constant despite turnover in the booth, both in the play-by-play and analyst roles. This will be his fourth year working with Vasgersian and Rodriguez.
As always, there was a learning curve, but it was a smooth one. Several years ago Olney was given the ability to put himself on the air without going through the producers, which provided him the opportunity to get his observations with expediency.
"I remember the first couple of times Matt and I worked together, I interrupted him," Olney said. "And he couldn't have been easier to deal with as we sorted things out. He has a completely different landscape of sources than I do and you start to trade notes. I've absolutely loved it."
Olney first met Rodriguez when the prospect was 18-years-old and traveled to San Diego, stopping to ask Tony Gwynn for advice. Olney remembers watching the encounter and Gwynn walking over to say 'wow, this guy really loves baseball.'
It's an assessment Olney agrees with, and is conscientious to use.
"He'll see things that I'll never see and he'll say things that I'll never have awareness of," he said of his partner Rodriguez. "When I found out Alex was going to be in the seat, my thought was that we had to get to that stuff."
The opportunity to do additional storytelling in addition to sideline reporting is something Olney has enjoyed through the years and continues to enjoy.
"When I came from the New York Times to ESPN, that was one of the really attractive parts of it. I didn't have my foot in the door yet on television but they sold me on the idea that I could do magazine pieces and write for ESPN.com or do radio. They've been really great about embracing ideas."
Before covering both the Mets and Yankees for the New York Times, Olney had stints at the Baltimore Sun and San Diego Union-Tribune. His extension shores up a high-profile role headed into a pivotal few years for both the program and baseball as a whole on ESPN.