Born on Independence Day, Lives Actively & Family Focused

Pam Shriver: Bud Collins Remembered

June 18, 2016

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Bud Collin’s 87th birthday on June 17th, 2016 was the day chosen by his devoted wife Anita to celebrate and remember his incomparable life. Remember and celebrate we did! Boston cooperated with some of the most glorious early summer weather. The Baltimore Orioles clobbered the Red Sox 5-1 the night before at Fenway Park taking over first place in the American League East. I stayed in the Oriole team hotel, ironically the same hotel my son’s 5th grade class stayed in during their two nights in Boston in May for a school field trip. I know I would have been reunited with something of his in the hotel’s lost and found, but I never found the time or motivation to check.

Besides the celebration of Bud’s life, my short time in Boston was a reunion of many writers, broadcasters, and photographers who covered tennis and sports during my competitive era.  The following of Bud’s journalist pals who came to celebrate were: Dick Enberg, Bob Costas, Frank Deford, Curry Kirkpatrick, Lesley Visser, Cindy Smyerler, June Harrison, Mary Carillo, Steve Flink, Dan Shaughnessy, George Vecsey, Bob Ryan, Donna Dougherty, Jon Wertheim, Willie Weinbaum and many many others.

Two of the eulogists were Chris Evert and Billie Jean King. They both captured Bud’s essence just right, telling of decades of Bud memories and how they both felt safe and not vulnerable when speaking to Bud post-match, even if that match was a loss in a Wimbledon final.

ESPN asked if I would interview Bud last September the day before the US Open media center was named after him last August. Bud had been struggling with his health for some years and his memory was inconsistent so obviously the interview was put to tape, and may never be seen by the public. Bud knew who I was, still had the sparkle in his eyes and the love of tennis and writing came through even if a story repeated itself or an answer wandered around without an ending.  Even though I asked him questions about himself through the years and specifically what it would mean to have the US Open media center named after him the next day? He mostly deflected his answers to memories of others like Jimmy Van Allen’s tie breaker invention or to Newport RI, the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, or to his tailor, Charlie, who helped him make his bright and uniquely Bud wardrobe. Bud’s modesty, humility and deflection from his own story was evident in this last interview. I wanted Bud to live forever so he could tell me and others compelling stories and remind us about details of tennis history. Unfortunately, neither you nor I can stop or turn back time. Bud ended his interview with me with a huge smile and it was clear, despite a failing memory that his devotion to tennis and its history was still intact.

During my over 35 years of either playing or broadcasting professional tennis, I am so fortunate to have met countless people of impeccable values and qualities. Bud Collin’s character and humble manner rises to the top. There is a void in the media rooms and broadcast booths for all tennis events. Bud will be missed and remembered forever.

RIP Bud Collins!