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ESPN founder at fundraiser for Boys & Girls Club

Anyone who enjoys watching never ending sports on ESPN can thank Stuart Evey of Spokane.

And you can thank him in person Thursday. Evey is the featured speaker at the Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties' annual Dinner with Friends.

The fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. at Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick. Tickets are $200 per person. To purchase, call Terry Duffy at 543-9980, ext. 15, or send an e-mail to terry@kidexpert.org.

It was Evey's vision and passion for sports that made ESPN possible.

Years later, in 1978, Evey, then vice president of Worldwide Non-oil Operations for Getty Oil, was approached by Bill Rasmussen about backing an all-sports television network -- one that would broadcast events like slow-pitch softball, Australian rules rugby and day-old college football games, sporting events that couldn't make it to the major networks.

Rasmussen, a former play-by-play announcer for a minor league hockey team, already had made his pitch to the big networks, ABC, NBC, CBS. In all, eight companies had already said no.

"They didn't have any interest in cable TV because they didn't think it would work," Evey said.

Oil and television may sound like an odd mix but Getty Oil was diversified and involved in many different industries.

"I thought, why not television?," Evey said.

Now, 31 years later, it's hard to imagine sports without ESPN.

Evey continued working for Getty but added another hat, founding chairman of ESPN. From the first broadcast Sept. 7, 1979, it was unbelievably successful, he said.

Evey is retired now but still remains connected to ESPN. He has written a book about the founding of ESPN and the early years, Creating an Empire. It's available at bookstores, or attend the Boys & Girls Clubs' Dinner with Friends -- all who attend will receive a copy.

w Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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