Derek Gentile: Reaching the finish line for our Top 50 athletes list

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PITTSFIELD — Well, we're almost home.

Chronicling the final tier of the Top 50 Berkshire Athletes of the 20th Century has been an interesting experience.

On one hand, I've really enjoyed talking with all these superb performers. Mary Lou DiNicola and her husband Dick have become good friends. Talking about the old days of the Dalton collegians with Steve Wendell was really fun, as was talking about Berkshire County football and basketball with Larry King. And my friend Chuck Garivaltis was as affable and positive as ever when we chatted.

That's not to say it was easy. The editor who originated this list, my friend Brian Sullivan, didn't leave a lot of notes when he passed away a few years ago. So I went into the researching of these last eight athletes pretty cold. But I was determined to try to write profiles of which Brian could be proud.

I think I did that. And for these last three, the sports department has agreed to dress these stories up a little bit, with some interesting photos. We hope you enjoy them.

Now that the rather ambitious summer arts season has wound down, the last three athletes will be on a more regular schedule. No. 3 will run Tuesday. No. 2 two weeks later and No. 1 two weeks after that. And, in response to a number of requests, we will actually tell you, dear readers, what day these last few will run the day before they are published. And people say we don't listen.

I do want to emphasize one point: A handful of people are clearly not happy with Brian's choices. Most, of course, anonymously. And I get it. Somehow, to them, being on the list this would validate their brother/father/husband/friend as an athlete.

But I would remind them that Brian and I went though the athletic resumes of literally thousands of individuals. What I found was that while we had some great candidates, some of them weren't going to make it.

At the time, we didn't think this was a big deal. Or I didn't, anyway.

But I've discovered in the ensuing months that to some, not many, but some, it's a very big deal.

And I'm sorry. This was a list Brian drew up that reflected his sense of the length and breadth of the athletic universe of Berkshire County. And I think he did a heck of a job. But it is, as he always said, his list. There is room for people to dissent. How could there not be? In the end, it's all pretty subjective. We couldn't arrange for Turk Wendell to pitch against Dale Long. Or for Bobby Eichorn to play Mickey Marvin one-on-one. That was kind of the fun of it, in my mind. So maybe people should all relax.

But to all the other people who have helped out, and encouraged me, and sent me notes and suggestions, I thank you. And I think Brian Sullivan would have thanked you, as well. I know he would have, actually. He was always very polite.

Reach staff reporter Derek Gentile at 413-770-6977.


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