Will McDonough, a sports reporter
and columnist for The Boston Globe for 41 years whose byline made readers
sit up and take notice, died of a heart attack at his home in Hingham
on Thursday night. He was 67.
For those legions who follow sports in
Boston, across New England, and around the nation, the name Will McDonough
above a story signaled that reliable, and often exclusive, news was coming
along. In-depth information, gleaned from countless sources on the street,
on the field, in the clubhouse, and in executive offices, and laced with
perspective - about players, teams, officials, games, corporations, and
fans - was the grit from which Will McDonough fashioned his stories.
He prided himself on delivering news that counted - "scoops," as traditional
journalistic parlance has it - in the simplest of words.
Although he didn't like the word "pioneer,"
Mr. McDonough was one. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was a charter
member of a small company of print journalists who, while maintaining
their newspaper positions, worked as reporters and commentators on television.
In the days before the Internet, Mr. McDonough's Sunday edition professional
football notes columns were staples in the studios of every network covering
the NFL, and CBS took the unprecedented step of offering him an on-air
job. "I proved once and for all you don't have to be pretty to be on television,"
he liked to say of his work at CBS and, later, at NBC.
In recent years, Mr. McDonough continued
to appear regularly on television and radio broadcasts. He did a weekly
national radio show (he taped his last one Thursday morning) with former
Patriots (and now Dallas Cowboys) coach Bill Parcells for Sporting News
Radio (heard locally on WWZN, 1510-AM). He also appeared regularly on
his son Sean's "The McDonough Group" on that station, and he was a co-host
with his former longtime Globe colleague Mike Barnicle each Friday on
WTKK (96.9-FM). He also was a staple of Ch. 4's "Patriots Pregame," "5th
Quarter," and "Sports Final" shows with host Bob Lobel.
Born in July 1935, he kept an oar in the
waters of his native neighborhood all his life despite his move to Hingham
early in his Globe career. Few knew better than he the whos, whats, wheres,
whys, and hows of life in South Boston from the 1940s to the present.
He was an acquaintance of numerous celebrated - and infamous - sons of
"Southie" and to his last day supported in words and deed those whom he
called friends. And these friends returned the favor when Reporter McDonough
called on them to help with a story.
The McDonough byline first appeared in
the Globe in the late 1950s when he was a student at Northeastern working
as a co-op in the sports department, mostly covering school sports. He
had been a three-sport player at English High School, but injuries pushed
him to the sidelines, and, eventually, to the press box. It did not take
him long to get his reporter's feet on the ground when he was hired onto
the Globe staff shortly after his graduation from college; he covered
whatever was thrown at him and always delivered on time.
Professional football was Mr. McDonough's
main interest for most of his Globe career (he left the paper for a brief
period in 1973 to go to work for the late Bob Woolf's player-management
firm), and he was proud of his status as one of the very few writers still
working who had covered every Super Bowl. But he kept his keen eye on
everything else that was going on around town, especially at Boston Garden,
the FleetCenter and Fenway Park, and was able and willing on a moment's
notice to cover events at those venues when his editors were stuck. When
the opportunity came in the 1980s for him to write a weekly notes column
for the Saturday edition, he was well-prepared. From the first such column
to the last, just a week ago, Will McDonough produced must-reading
copy not only for Globe readers but also for the movers and shakers in
sports locally and nationally.
As to his health, Mr. McDonough dealt
with his middle-age heart problems, which began a decade ago, the way
he dealt with his stories: You do your work, you play it straight, and
you tough it out, knowing you've given it your all. On a visit to the
Globe last Friday, he mentioned that the medication he was taking after
a recent cardiac procedure made him feel "dopey," but he was looking forward
to resuming his exercises. "When you have heart disease," he said, "you
know another blow is coming. The important thing is to be in the best
shape you can to give yourself the best shot at surviving it."
McDonough leaves his wife, Denise,
two daughters, Erin of Norwell and Cara of Hingham; three sons, Sean a
nationally-known sportscaster of North Quincy, Terence of Raleigh, N.C.,
and Ryan of Hingham; three sisters, Sister Mary Martina McDonough, SND,
of Hingham, Ellen Eccleston of Roseville, Calif., and Margaret McDonough
of Weymouth; a brother, Martin of Hyde Park; and four grandchildren.