Alan N. "Goldy" Goldstein, a retired Baltimore Sun sports reporter and columnist whose primary beats during his four-decade career were professional boxing and basketball, died Monday of liver failure at a son's Glen Arm home.
He was 82.
"Al was the consummate pro and one of the best boxing writers of his era," said Vito Stellino, a former Sun football reporter who is now on the sports staff of The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla.
"He knew all of the great figures like Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard, right on down to the trainers," Mr. Stellino said. "He was close to all the boxers and was very plugged in and covered all of the big fights. He was respected throughout the industry.
"But as good as a journalist he was, he was a good person. In a business where there can be a lot of outsized egos, he didn't have one," he said. "He never took himself seriously and was not a self-promoter."
The son of Harry Goldstein, an optician, and Edna Goldberg, a homemaker, Alan Nathan Goldstein was born in New York City and raised in the Washington Heights neighborhood. He graduated in 1951 from George Washington High School.
His lifelong love of basketball began on the playgrounds of New York City when he was a youngster and continued into his 70s, when he competed in Senior Olympics events. For years, he played basketball three times a week with friends at the Bykota Senior Center in Towson.
"He had a mean running hook shot that no one could block, and he was doing that when he was well into his 60s," said Nate Pitts, a retired Sun editorial assistant who played basketball with Mr. Goldstein.
After earning a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1954 from New York University, Mr. Goldstein served in the Army from 1954 to 1956, where he was a sports editor for Stars & Stripes.
Discharged in 1956, he began his career as a sports reporter at the Meriden Journal in Meriden, Conn. Four years later, he joined The Sun's sports staff.
"Goldy was a real nice person, and when he came down from Connecticut, he fit right in the department," said Seymour S. Smith, who retired from The Sun as assistant sports editor. "Goldy was a good writer and no matter what you gave him to do, he always did a great job."
A versatile and gifted writer with wide range, Mr. Goldstein wrote about Roger Staubach's days at the Naval Academy, as well as the Baltimore (and later Washington) Bullets and the Baltimore Blast.
He wrote about the Orioles' World Series wins, the Colts' Super Bowl appearances, the Los Angeles Olympics and the Boston Marathon. But his passions were boxing and basketball.
Rick Moreland, who played basketball at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1983.
"I joined the Bullets on the PR side in 1988, and I saw Goldy every day, and we developed a real close relationship. He helped build my PR career with the NBA," said Mr. Moreland, who is now senior vice president of Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
"In that era, Wes Unseld had been a player and was then Bullets coach," said Mr. Moreland. "Wes could be extremely rough at times on the media and take jabs at them, but not Goldy. He had a special place in his heart for Goldy, who had covered him as a player."
Mr. Goldstein covered an era of championship boxing that included bouts involving Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Archie Moore, Willie Pep and Sugar Ray Leonard.
"Ali's title defense against Joe Frazier tonight is billed as Superfight III between these two traditional rivals, who could seemingly make it a longer-running road show than Hope and Crosby," wrote Mr. Goldstein in his column, Another Day, before the 1975 bout that went down in history as the "Thrilla in Manila."
"Muhammad Ali is being hailed as the savior of professional boxing, and few will dispute the notion, least of all Ali himself," he wrote in another column a few days after the fight.
Mr. Goldstein went on to write two biographies of the fighters: "A Fistful of Sugar: The Sugar Ray Leonard Story," published in 1981; and "Muhammad Ali: The Story of a Boxing Legend" published in 2007.
He was also a co-author, with Robert A. Morales, Ron Borges and Ivan Goldman, of "12 Rounds with Oscar De La Hoya: An Illustrated Tribute to Boxing's Brightest Star," which was published in 1998.
In 1976, Mr. Goldstein was inducted into the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame and in 1997 received the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism.
Throughout his life, Mr. Goldstein remained the quintessential New Yorker who never shed the accent. A resident of the Risteau Condominiums since 2010, he was a gifted storyteller and relished puns and trivia questions — especially those about Hollywood stars.
One about Claudette Colbert was a favorite, because no one ever knew the answer: "What's Klawdett Coalbare's real name?" he would ask in his New York accent. "You can win a bearr [beer] on this one." When the victim couldn't come up with it, he'd give the answer: Lily Chauchoin.
"How do I know this?" he would ask. "She was a friend of my mother's."
In addition to reading and traveling, he enjoyed jazz and watching professional basketball and baseball. He also was a tennis player.
Services are private. A celebration of Mr. Goldstein's life will be held for family and friends from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 9 at his home in Brooklandville.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, the former Rebecca Ruth Goldberg; two sons, Joel S. Goldstein of Glen Arm and Jay D. Goldstein of Kensington; and a granddaughter.
Baltimore Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.