Transitions: Bud Collins (17 June 1929-4 March 2016). Bud Collins died last over a week ago and with his passing, the game of tennis lost its’ biggest, best, and most enthusiastic booster.
For decades, Bud Collins was the TV journalist and personality who covered the really big tennis events: the French Open, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open. He was known for his very distinctive dress code–part east coast Preppy and part west coast rock star–, loud slacks, pastel sweaters, bow ties, blazers, shoes with no socks (the best way to go) and his truly encyclopedic knowledge of the game of tennis(he wrote the definitive history of the sport, Bud Collins Tennis Encyclopedia ).
Collins was a lighthearted personality but he had a deep and serious streak and he cared deeply about the sport of tennis, especially American tennis, at a time when others did not. One of his great gifts was a unique ability to make the game understandable and exciting and human and dramatic to people who might not have given it any attention at all. He was a tennis lifer, of the very best kind, and he had the historical perspective and on-court knowledge to deliver some of the very best commentary to ever accompany a sports event.
Collins was a writer, producer, editor, and TV personality and in a world in which the sportscasters and writers tried to blend into the background, Collins did not. He was different in appearance, in attitude, in perception and delivery. He wrote very well, made interesting and most-often prescient statements, and also played the game very well, winning a national tittle in Mixed Doubles and making it to the finals for the French Senior Men’s Doubles in 1975. He also coached tennis, and was once head coach at Brandeis University; one of the members of his men’s team was Abbie Hoffman, who would go on to become a very effective activist and protestor. Hoffman no doubt learned a thing or two about competition against heavy odds from the coaching he received from Bud Collins.
Collins had a four decade career as a sports journalist, working with the Boston Globe as a writer and with CBS, NBC, and ESPN as a television commentator. When NBC rather unceremoniously dropped him from their coverage team after Wimbledon in 2007, Bob Ryan, a fellow Boston Globe reporter eviscerated the network while on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters Show” (I still miss it and, in particular, Dick Shapp), noting that Collins “still had his fastball” and graciously praised the Boston Globe for keeping Collins on as a writer and reporter. A month later, Bud Collins was back on the air..on ESPN. He was one of a kind and he was a very kind one at that. Please read Victorino Matus’ superb remembrance in the Weekly Standard, which is a mere click away, to get an idea of Collins energy and empathy.
Bud Collins set a wonderful standard both on and off the court and he will be missed in a thousand press boxes and newsrooms throughout the world. He was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
A Bud Collins ClickPak
Collins The Fleet Street Hero (Source: TheIndependent.c0m)
The Passing of Bud Collins (Source: TheNewYorkTimes.Com)
There Won’t Ever Be Another Bud Collins (Source: ESPN.Com)
John Feinstein’s Tribute to Bud Collins (Source: WashingtonPost.Com) (read it, it’s great).
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