6abc’s Jim Gardner the star of Sunday’s Phillies game; Aqib Talib off Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’

The Phillies bullpen could’ve used Jim Gardner on Sunday.

The longtime 6abc anchor, who is retiring at the end of the year, was at Citizens Bank Park to throw out the first pitch, which he zipped right over the plate for a perfect strike.

Gardner might be 73, but the Phillies would probably have been better off if he took the mound Sunday after they blew an 8-7 lead against the New York Mets on the way to losing three out of four to the National League East leaders.

The long time Action News anchor may have looked calm and cool on the mound Sunday, but as he told his colleague Jamie Apody, he was quietly quaking with fear.

“In 45 years Jamie, this is easily the most terrifying moment of my career,” Gardner said. “I played high school baseball, I’ve been throwing with my sons for many years. If I don’t make a good pitch, my wife and I are going to get into our car and drive home… In fact, I may not stop. That might be it. Retirement moved up four to five months early.”

Fortunately, Gardner didn’t embarrass himself (or wear a Mets jersey), and following the toss he joined the 94.1 WIP radio booth to call part of the game alongside Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen.

“It was fun to be able to do this, and I’ll never watch a baseball game the same way,” Gardner said as he signed off the broadcast.

Gardner delivered his final 11 pm newscast on Action News back in January, and will officially sign off from the 6 pm newscast in December after sitting in the anchor’s chair for 45 years.

“I look forward, for instance, to being able to watch a Sixers game on television with my wife, or, my goodness — to even go to a game on a weeknight. Or maybe even linger over dinner, or doze off reading a book before 2 in the morning,” Gardner said last year. “It is a lifestyle I haven’t experienced in 45 years, and it’s time.”

Former Super Bowl champ and five-time Pro Bowler Aqib Talib won’t join Amazon’s Thursday Night Football broadcast crew following a deadly brawl during a youth football game in Lancaster, Tx., according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Talib and his brother, Yaqub, coached the North Dallas United Bobcats. On Aug. 13, a disagreement with the referees over the score of the game erupted into a melee between coaching staff, with Talib allegedly throwing the first punch at Dragons Elite Academy coach Mike Hickmon.

“He ran across the field and got on our sideline and got in the ref’s face,” fellow coach Heith Mayes told WFAA in Dallas. “He threw the first punch, and you see Mike trying to defend himself.”

In a video obtained by WFAA, the punches were immediately followed by gunshots. Hickmon, a father of three, was struck several times and died in a nearby hospital. Police arrested Yaqub in the shooting.

“Aqib was present when this unfortunate incident occurred and is very distraught and devastated over this terrible loss of life,” Frank Perez, Aqib Talib’s lawyer, said in a statement. “He would like to convey his condolences to the family of the victim and to everyone who witnessed this unfortunate tragedy.”

Talib was set to join Amazon’s new Thursday Night Football team this season, where he was expected to be involved in the streaming service’s studio coverage. He spent the previous two seasons at Fox Sports, where he had the opportunity to call a handful of games, including an Eagles’ loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 of the 2020 season.

Talib spent 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos. He was elected to the Pro Bowl five times, and won a Super Bowl with the Broncos.

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