Arthur Worth “Bud” Collins, Jr. has been a fixture in the tennis community for over six decades and has become as well known for his newspaper and television work as for his colorful outfits and congenial personality.
Collins, 85, simply known as “Bud,” grew up in Berea, Ohio, where his first love was baseball and newspapers. He began in the newspaper business while still in high school, covering high school and college games for his hometown paper, the Berea Enterprise.
This passion continued into college, as Collins attended nearby Baldwin-Wallace University. He was the sports editor for the college paper, The Exponent, and had the opportunity to cover Berea Olympic gold-medalist sprinter Harrison Dillard at the 1948 London Olympics.
Collins graduated from Baldwin-Wallace in 1951 and went into the Army for a year. Upon his return, Collins followed the lead of his good friend and former Exponent editor, Bob Beach, to Boston University in 1955 to pursue a master’s degree in public relations.
At the same time, Collins began working as a copy boy for the Boston Herald. A short while later, the Herald editor surprised Collins by offering him a full-time job as a sports reporter covering boxing.
Collins would occasionally cover tennis events, with his first tennis tournament the Massachusetts Women’s Championship at the Longwood Cricket Club in the late 1950s. It was here that Collins acquired his true appreciation for covering the sport.
His coverage caught the eye of Benny Friedman, a former University of Michigan quarterback who became the athletic director at Brandeis University. Friedman offered Collins a part-time job as the school’s first varsity tennis coach. Collins coached from 1959 to 1963, during which time he had perhaps the most famous student-athlete at the time, political and social activist Abbie Hoffman, on the team.
Collins was an up-and-coming sports writer at the Herald and was eventually hired by The Boston Globe in 1963.
At The Globe, Collins wrote a general sports column but was given the freedom to write about tennis as much as he wanted, as the editors at The Globe were more partial to tennis than those at the Herald.
In 1966, Greg Harney, the producer for Boston’s Public Broadcasting Service, WGBH, approached Collins to do commentary for live tennis matches he wanted to show on air. This began Collins’ sports commentary work, in which he was a pioneer. Collins moved to CBS Sports in 1968 and then NBC Sports in 1972 and began his “Breakfast at Wimbledon” broadcasts in 1979. His run with NBC lasted until 2007, when NBC decided not to renew the then-78-year-old’s contract.
In addition to his newspaper and television work, Collins has written several books, including, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book” — a new edition is due next year — and Rod Laver’s biography.
Collins has been honored with numerous journalism awards, including the Red Smith Award in 1999 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994.
He currently resides in Boston with his wife, photographer Anita Ruthling Klaussen.
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