Martin Gardner (1914 – 2010) was best known for his articles on recreational mathematics, especially his column in Scientific American which he wrote from 1956 to 1981. Once Gardner wrote a letter of recommendation for a young man applying to graduate school at Harvard.
I don’t know a lot about mathematics, but this kid invented two of the best card tricks of the last ten years. You ought to give him a chance.
The kid was Persi Diaconis. At the time, Diaconis, like Gardner, was something of a mathematical outsider, someone with more creativity than credentials. Diaconis went on to become a mathematics professor at Harvard and won two MacArthur genius awards. He is now a professor at Stanford.
Source: Magical Mathematics (ISBN 0691151644)