The United States Tennis Association dedicated the U.S. Open’s media center to Bud Collins Sept. 6.
It’s hard to find a man more colorful than tennis sportscaster Bud Collins. Not only is he known for wearing extravagant, patterned pants, but he also lights up a room wherever he goes.
“I would say he’s colorful in every way,” said Katie Moulton, former general manager of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, where Collins frequented. “He’s colorful in the way he greets and cares about other people. He always brings a happy tone to whatever group he’s in, and he is someone who knows how to bring a smile to people’s faces.”
On Sept. 6, the U.S. Tennis Association named the U.S. Open’s media center in Collins’ honor.
Collins became interested in tennis at a young age when he grew up next to tennis courts in Berea, Ohio. His father took him to play, and he fell in love with the sport. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea and worked on a journalism graduate degree at Boston University.
It was in Boston where Collins began his long, successful career in tennis journalism.
“He was working at a newspaper that sent him on assignment to cover tennis because he was the youngest,” said Collins’ wife, Anita Ruthling Klaussen.. “No one wanted to cover tennis. They wanted glamorous sports. He loved tennis, so he was happy he was assigned it, and it became clear how good he was at it.”
In 1963, Collins began at the Boston Globe and for WGBH, Boston’s Public Broadcasting Service channel. From 1968 to 1972, he covered the U.S. Open for CBS Sports. In 1972, he moved to NBC Sports, where he remained until 2007. He became renowned for his tennis commentary, and in 1999, the Associated Press Sports Editors awarded him the Red Smith Award, which is the country’s most esteemed sports writing honor. In 2002, he was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
“He was one of the first people who was a journalist to jump to television,” Ruthling Klaussen said. “He paved the way for everybody.”
It was when Collins switched to television that he found his love for bright, colorful pants. Tailor Charlie Davidson told Collins he would make him a pair of “fun” trousers because he looked boring on the screen.
“He wore that first pair to the Davis Cup in Cleveland, and people were whistling and booing, and at first, he wanted to cover them up,” Ruthling Klaussen said. “He then realized how much fun it is and never stopped.”
Everywhere they went, Collins and Ruthling Klaussen picked out fabric to be made into his trademark pants. When Collins was honored at this year’s U.S. Open, he wore pants with fabric from New Zealand, Bhutan and Australia.
Collins and Ruthling Klaussen spent three days in New York at the U.S. Open, where he reunited with several old friends and colleagues as well as other prominent journalists. He was recognized on the Jumbotron during Serena Williams’ match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, where 23,000 people gave him a standing ovation.
“We just couldn’t believe it,” Ruthling Klaussen said. “We were just overwhelmed with the kindness, and the way they did everything was perfection. It was so nice. Everything about it was just beautiful.”
The plaque now in the U.S. Open’s media center perfectly describes the colorful Collins for who he is: “Journalist, Commentator, Historian, Mentor, Friend."