NESN Mourns Passing of Cameraman John Martin, Who Battled ALS for Two Years
Industry vet was part of the fabric of Boston sports scene
The sports-television industry lost a beloved figure this week when New England Sports Network (NESN) camera operator John Martin died on Sunday at the age of 51. An industry veteran of 19 years, he had fought amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for two years. Martin was a mainstay of NESN’s telecasts and a constant presence at Fenway Park and TD Garden. He was part of the fabric of Boston sports for two decades, covering the Celtics, Patriots, and numerous other events that defined the region.
“John battled the cruel, progressive disease of ALS with strength, dignity, and humanity,” says NESN CEO/President Sean McGrail. “He was a beloved colleague dedicated to bringing New England’s fans an inside look at our champions. His joy, humor, and energy were cherished by all of us who worked with him and by the athletes and teams he covered. It was his personal character that gained him the love and respect of everyone he came into contact with. On behalf of all NESN employees, we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to John’s family.”
Martin’s friendships spanned players and management at both the Red Sox and the Bruins as well as at Boston print, radio, and TV outlets. The industry and community rallied around the Martin family’s advocacy to find an ALS cure. For the 2017 Oldtime Baseball game that benefited John’s fight, Pedro Martinez showed his support by not only playing but also driving with Martin to the game. In 2018, Café Martin hats became part of the locker rooms and press boxes of Boston’s professional sports teams.
For nearly 30 years, he was “Coach John” in Boston’s South End Little League. During his career, his peers recognized his craft with five Emmy Awards in addition to the 2018 Silver Circle Award for significant contributions to television. He wrote two books: Waiting for Greatness: Memories and Musings of a Sports Television Cameraman evoked the love of his job, and Every Ten Minutes chronicled the cruel realities of his fight with ALS.
Martin was born in Worcester, MA, and is survived by his wife, Adrienne, and two young daughters.