Edward G. Gillooly Jr., a gregarious sportswriter who covered the Boston Celtics for nearly three decades and was one of the first reporters to travel with the team, died of lung cancer Saturday at his Weymouth home. He was 71.
Always on the prowl for a good scoop, Mr. Gillooly hobnobbed with the Celtics greats as he traveled from state to state, telling readers what the players did both on and off the court.
With his trademark ''How ya doing?" followed by a firm handshake and a ''How's it going?" Mr. Gillooly, was a well-known figure in sports circles.
''He was always the funniest guy around -- his whole life was about humor," his son Edward J. of Weston said yesterday.
The oldest of 11 children, the Jamaica Plain native became the patriarchal figure in his family when he was about 20 years old, after his father died.
After graduating from Boston College High School in the early 1950s, Mr. Gillooly started out as a copy boyHe became a beat reporter and then sports reporter in the early 1960s for the Record American, which became the Boston Herald.
As an old-school sports reporter, Mr. Gillooly ''never said a bad thing about anybody," his son said. He was popular among the Celtics players, who would often good tips that he would turn into stories.
Ever the Celtics fan, Mr. Gillooly helped to organize a fan club for the team, the Green Gang, bringing together season ticket holders, management, players, and coaches to shoot the breeze on the latest in hoops.
''He gave them an excitement among fans that they weren't generating. He covered them before they were fashionable," said longtime colleague Joe Fitzgerald of the Herald. ''He didn't try to be a character, he was a character."
In the off-season, Mr. Gillooly turned his attention to college sports, writing a column under the name ''Mr. Z," in which he would defend his predictions of who would prevail as victor of any given match. He retired from the newspaper in 1979 but worked for United Press International for another decade.
He also worked for a quarter-century as a public relations director for the National Association of Government Employees and Service Employees International Union.
Mr. Gillooly also helped to create a sports periodical, Sports Vision, with Tom Heinsohn of the Boston Celtics.
Dressed to the nines, and always wearing cologne, Mr. Gillooly ''just did everything to the hills," his son said.
In addition to his son, Mr. Gillooly leaves his wife of 51 years, Pauline M. (Richard), four daughters, Paula M. Sheeran of Taunton, Theresa A. Baranowski of Weymouth, Marie N. Chaput of Holliston, and Joanne C. Cufaude of Weymouth; two other sons, Joseph C. of Rockland and Robert P. of Hingham; his siblings, Francis of Brockton, David, Mary, Carol Smith, Catherine MacDougal, and Susan Jones all of Quincy, Patricia Robinson, Jeanne Hartman, and John, all of Stoughton, and Dennis of Maine; 14 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be said at 9 a.m. Thursday in St. Jerome Church in Weymouth. Internment will be in Mount Hope Cemetery in Weymouth.