Thirty-six years ago, Jim Gardner went to a Phillies game alone. He’d just moved here, didn’t really know anyone. It took three innings for the Phils to win him over. It didn’t take even that for Jim Gardner to win us over.
On May 11th, 1977, Gardner made his debut as the anchor of the 6 and 11 p.m. Action News telecasts. “His record of success is unprecedented in American television news,” says Gardner’s predecessor, the venerable Larry Kane. “He’s got great ethics. And that, to me, is very important in an era when television news has gone to shit.”
But while his reputation is Tiffany, it’s his presence on Twitter that’s endeared him to a new generation that has changed the channel on TV news. He tweets everything from sweater-vest jokes to why Cliff Lee needs a therapist. “Twitter is really the town crier out there with the bell,” Gardner says. “It’s the front line of telling other people stuff that’s happening. It’s exciting. It’s fun. And it gives me a wider range to express myself.”
For Philly’s hipsters, Gardner is proof that integrity still matters in an arena where not every 140-character alert that pings in your pocket is to be trusted. For a prior generation, he’s still literally the city’s anchor—a nightly reminder that before local news became a collage of chalk outlines, shell casings, fires and weather, it was a tie that bound us together. —Mike Bertha