Bud Collins, Sportswriter Turned Tennis Broadcaster, Dead At 86
March 4, 2016 at 12:43 PM (PT)
BUD COLLINS, who joined the BOSTON GLOBE in the early '60s as a tennis writer, then became practically syonymous with U.S. OPEN and WIMBLEDON coverage as a TV commentator, passed away at the age of 86 in his BROOKLINE, MA, home.
Said the BOSTON GLOBE in its obituary: "COLLINS provided the sport with its most authoritative voice," authoring a tennis encyclopedia and a history of the game.
“No media figure in history in my mind has ever been as important to one sport as BUD COLLINS was to the sport of tennis,” said NEW YORK DAILY NEWS writer and ESPN personality MIKE LUPICA.
Considered the first sports print journalist to establish a regular second home on TV, COLLINS' longest and most visible venue was at NBC from 1972 to 2007, notably with the "Breakfast at WIMBLEDON" broadcasts.
Over the years, he also appeared regularly on ESPN, THE TENNIS CHANNEL, and the AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION. His patented bow-tied presence is credited with spreading tennis' appeal as a televised event.
“He broke the barrier, the notion that you could be a newspaper guy and they would want you on TV,” said GLOBE sports columnist DAN SHAUGHNESSY. "Nobody has more fun on the job than BUD COLLINS.”
In 1968, the GLOBE first sent COLLINS to LONDON to cover WIMBLEDON. During that first of his 44 trips there, he covered stars such as BILLIE JEAN KING and PANCHO GONZALEZ.
Having begun his tennis run in an era when players were far more accessible, COLLINS was on a first-name basis with the sport’s luminaries, and was renowned for his outrageous outfits.
When he was inducted into the INTERNATIONAL TENNIS HALL OF FAME in 1994, his pants were referenced in the citation.
For years, COLLINS' GLOBE tennis columns were interspersed with travel features that ran under the heading “Anywhere,” a range of destinations including CAMBODIA, CHINA, INDIA, ITALY, NEPAL, TANZANIA and TIBET.
COLLINS also covered the hometown RED SOX during their Impossible Dream season of 1967, and he wrote about MUHAMMAD ALI when the boxer was still CASSIUS CLAY.
Born in LIMA, OH, ARTHUR WORTH COLLINS JR. won a third-grade spelling contest in 1938, then got a job delivering newspapers, his first media gig.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, and after a stint in the ARMY, he was accepted to BOSTON UNIVERSITY and began working part-time at the BOSTON HERALD. No one wanted to cover tennis, and an editor sent him to cover the state women’s championships at LONGWOOD. "I was secretly thrilled,” COLLINS recalled in a video interview on a BU website.
While working at the HERALD, he was part of a duo that won the US INDOOR MIXED DOUBLES title. He also coached tennis at BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY, where ABBIE HOFFMAN was among his players. Although a left-leaning radical, as COLLINS recalled, HOFFMAN was a conservative player, sticking to the baseline to notch many wins.
COLLINS is survived by his wife, ANITA RUTHLING KLAUSSEN, a daughter, SUZANNA MATHEWS and a son, ROB LACY.