As a fledgling sportswriter in the early 1980s, I had the opportunity to meet famed New York sports columnist Dick Young at a prizefight and asked the acerbic scribe -- who was credited with coining the famous moniker "Joe Baby" when sarcastically referring to quarterback Joe Namath -- if he could offer me any tips to become better at my craft.

Young, whose take-no-prisoners writing style won him legions of admirers but few friends, looked at me dourly and said, "Son, you'll get your stories by working, there's no shortcut. Period."

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