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‘I owe a lot to Herb’

June 18, 2008
Neil Rudel
Some notes from around and about the Mirror newsroom to help keep you abreast of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do:

By now you’ve read about the passing of former Mirror Sports Editor Herb Werner.

The Mirror sports department has been extremely fortunate in its stability as we’ve had just four sports editors during the past 50 years. Werner, after arriving from the Tyrone Herald on the eve of football season in 1958, started that trend.

I owe a lot to Herb.

He basically hired me sight unseen in 1978 on the recommendation of my Penn State adviser, Bill Dulaney, who had been sending PSU journalism grads to the Mirror through a connection with former executive editor Bob Boyer.

Until that time, Penn State football was covered almost solely by Herb, but he secured a second press pass and allowed me to join and eventually succeed him in coverage of the Nittany Lions.

Times, of course, were different then. The writers were trusted and rooted more than they do now. In fact, there was a weekly pre-game announcement that cheering was not permitted in the press box.

One of my first memories in the Beaver Stadium press box with Herb came in 1980. Nebraska was in town.

Other than an occasional series with Ohio State, Penn State hadn’t played many big intersectional games up to that point and, tired of the lack of respect bestowed on Eastern football, Joe Paterno beefed up the schedule with the likes of Nebraska, Alabama, Miami and Notre Dame.

The Cornhuskers bolted to a 14-0 lead when redshirt freshman quarterback Todd Blackledge entered and quickly found Kenny Jackson deep, cutting the lead to 14-7. Penn State got the ball back, and the crowd was buzzing.

Blackledge had Kevin Baugh open deep over the middle but overthrew him. The stadium gasped, and a loud fist could be heard slamming the press-box counter top in front of me.

‘‘You all right, Herb?’’

We both laughed and later shared many more funny moments, including on the golf course with Herb’s trusty 7-wood.

And though there’s no fist pounding (except after the game on my keyboard!) I’m still pulling for the home team — whether that’s Penn State, the Pirates, Steelers or local high schools — just as Herb always did.

While his departure is a loss to those who knew and loved him, Herb’s arrival in heaven will be greeted with a toast for he was the ultimate toastmaster.

He’ll see his sons Mark and Wayne along with old pals like Jim Gillam, Ron Rickens and, of course, Charlie Fisher.

In Herb, they’ll welcome the new life of the party with open arms.

Select TV update

We appreciate the feedback on the new Select TV tabloid and have gotten enough of it — some positive, some negative — that we can now politely ask to hold the calls.

It’s a work in progress, and we’re going to try and keep what you like and address some of the things you don’t.

Thank you for your patience during this transition.

New face

Retired Naval officer James Wentz, a legend of the Cove who has written books about legends of the Cove, will be writing a column on our monthly Cove-Bedford page. His first installment ran June 7. Here’s hoping you enjoy his historical and professional touch.

Have a day

Happy Father’s Day to all dads, especially one David Rudel, my hero.

Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or

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