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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Joe Gergen's friends, colleagues celebrate his career

(Credit: Watchdog)

I attended a luncheon/party in Bethpage Friday to celebrate the career of Joe Gergen upon his retirement from Newsday after 40 years at the paper - 33 of them as a columnist, nearly half the entire life of the newspaper.

Bud Harrelson was there. So were a long list of Newsday sports luminaries present and past - including Gergen's long-time columnist counterpart, Steve Jacobson - and one noted scribe from each of the Times, Daily News and Post.

(Buddy Harrelson! What famous athlete will attend my retirement party? Scott Gragg?)

The startling fact that I was one of the four or five youngest people in the room was a reminder of my delicate balancing act in straddling the old and new media worlds.

But in this case that was a good thing, because whenever I am tempted to stumble too far over into the latter, I can think about reading and/or working with Gergen over the past 36 years and remind myself how the profession can and should be practiced - even in the 21st century.

Click below to read my favorite line from the farewell bash.Greg Logan, Newsday's Islanders beat writer, recalled accompanying then sports editor Dick Sandler to an appearance along with Jim Smith, in the days when Logan was our Jets beat writer and Smith covered the Giants, presumably sometime in the early 1980s.

Logan said Sandler explained to the gathering the difference between columnists and beat writers thusly: The columnists are the brain surgeons. The beat reporters are the proctologists.

That pretty much sums it up.

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