By John Quinn
Deputy Sports Editor
April 7, 2010
Martin Buskin is perhaps the biggest reason why I have had a 30-year career in sports journalism. He taught the weekly class at night at Stony Brook and we got one credit for working at the school newspaper. I wrote a sports column (somewhat unorthodox since I had no formal training, and was a math and economics major). He said I used to make him laugh and he enjoyed and looked forward to reading my columns each week.
I was very fortunate to see him every week. I keep his Statesman obit on my desk at work (he’s smoking his pipe), and have had his obit, along with a few special others, with me everywhere I’ve worked.
He was a little old school, the students in the school newspaper were very varied in terms of experience because there was almost no formal training and few journalism courses. So hard news was a mystery to some of us at the time. He would make sure we got the message, in a firm but fatherly way.
I grew up in Brooklyn and always felt he had a knack for understanding middle-class kids. Plus he really encouraged me because he saw something in me despite my total lack of training. In fact, at times, he talked about my stuff a lot more than the really serious attempts at journalism.
If I remember correctly, he started off one class by saying: “Who the hell is John Quinn?” I froze in the back of the room, afraid to raise my hand and I was the starting wide receiver on the football team.
He said: “I don’t understand half of what you wrote but this is great. I look forward to reading it every week.”
I can say this, for sure. Everyone from my generation of Statesman, and many of us have been professional journalists for 30 years, remember him to this day, more than any professor I ever had (and that’s five years’ worth).
He made a difference.