Senior Writer, Sunday Night Baseball Reporter
Robert “Buster” Olney is a senior writer for ESPN.com and reporter for ESPN’s exclusive Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. He joined ESPN in June 2003 to cover baseball for all ESPN entities, including ESPN Radio, ESPNEWS and SportsCenter. He writes a daily column for ESPN.com and hosts the popular Baseball Tonight podcast as well as appearing on ESPN’s baseball studio show by the same name.
Olney’s two favorite events he has covered for ESPN are the 2014 and 2016 postseasons. “Particularly,” he said, “the historic performances of Madison Bumgarner.”
Olney began covering baseball in 1989 as the Nashville Banner’s beat reporter for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He later covered the San Diego Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune (1993 – 1994) and the Baltimore Orioles (Baltimore Sun, 1995 – 1996). He arrived at ESPN after six years at the New York Times covering the Mets (1997) and the Yankees (1998 – 2001).
Olney realized he wanted to build a career around sports writing when Red Smith, a Pulitzer Prize winning sports columnist for the New York Times, came and spoke at his high school.
“When I was 15, I had just started to figure out that I wasn’t going to be able to play power forward for the Lakers at 5-foot-7 3/8, nor was I going to be the second baseman for the Dodgers,” Olney said. “As Red told stories, it was apparent how much he loved his job—and immediately, I was inspired, because I loved sports, loved to write and possessed a curiosity about people. Within a couple of weeks, I started writing for my high school paper, and knew what I wanted to do.”
Olney has also authored the Times’ bestseller, The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness (HarperCollins 2004), a book about the Paul O’Neill/Tino Martinez Yankees’ dynasty of 1996 – 2001.
Olney also ranked in the Associated Press Game Story Top 10 from 1996 – 1998.
His favorite childhood sports memory comes from a special day with his uncle: “When I was 11 years old, my Uncle Bob arranged for me to see a playoff game at Fenway Park — Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, with Boston’s Luis Tiant on the mound against the dynasty Athletics, 1975,” Olney described. “But the great treat for me was that I got to watch the game sitting next to Uncle Bob’s friend — Pee Wee Reese, who had played for my favorite team, the Dodgers. I have always wished that I knew enough about Pee Wee’s relationship with Jackie Robinson that I had asked him about it. But it was an incredible experience, and I still have the scorecard pages from that day, with Pee Wee’s autograph.”
A native of Randolph Center, VT, Olney graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1988 with a degree in history.