The late Arthur “Bud” Collins was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame last Tuesday. Collins, who died in 2016, was a sports columnist for the Boston Globe but he was best known for his color commentary on TV broadcasts of Grand Slam tennis events.
Tennis is an integral part of Queens history and Collins was a fixture at the US Open. He was there at the first one at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills in 1968 and later moved with it to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Collins’ loud sartorial style were his calling card. He was to pants what the late Mets broadcaster Lindsey Nelson was to sports jackets.
It wasn’t clothing, though, that made Collins stand out. He was an amazing raconteur who had countless stories to relay to viewers. He also knew how to broaden the appeal of tennis to sports fans who normally only watched TV to see their local professional team sports play.
The press area in Arthur Ashe Stadium is named after Collins and the United States Tennis Association couldn’t have made a better choice. Even though he was far and away the most famous media personality at the Open, Collins was always approachable no matter which outlet a journalist was representing. He never “big leagued” anyone.
Although he loved tennis and certainly wanted Americans to succeed in winning championships, Collins was never a shill. A number of years ago there was a rumor that the USTA was thinking of creating an initiative that would have encouraged American teens to become professionals before going to college and thus forfeit any scholarship opportunities. The thinking was that Americans could compete better with their European counterparts when it came to winning both Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup competitions by having players turn professional earlier in their lives.
I asked Collins what he thought about the notion of incentivizing American high school tennis players to bypass college. “It’s despicable!” he quickly and forthrightly replied.
In addition to Collins, Bob Ley, who hosted ESPN’s sports journalism show “Outside the Lines” and was with the network for 40 years before retiring in 2019, and Mike “Doc” Emrick, who is NBC’s lead play-by-play voice on NHL telecasts, were inducted. Emrick has done a nice job making hockey appealing for those who didn’t grow up being huge fans of that sport.
Collins would have been thrilled to know that the emcee for the evening was former tennis pro, longtime tennis commentator and current HBO “Real Sports” correspondent Mary Carillo, who grew up in Douglaston.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
The New York Jets beat the playoff-aspiring Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10 last Sunday as MetLife Stadium felt like Heinz Field East given the huge number of fans wore black and gold jerseys in the stands.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was far from flawless as more times than not the Jets went three downs and out as opposed to having sustained drives but he was better than the Steelers’ quarterback tandem of Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph, who have been filling in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. The Jets were also aided by a knee injury bruising Steelers running back James Conner.
The real heroes for the Jets were its defense, which held the Steelers scoreless in the second half. They also played well in the first half and would have kept them out of the end zone had Darnold not fumbled the ball deep in Jets territory late in the second quarter.
The tenth annual Pinstripe Bowl, New York City’s entry into the crowded college football year-end festivities, will take place Friday at Yankee Stadium as Michigan State will take on Wake Forest. The good news is that the temperature is expected to be well above freezing.
Life and style
Live television outside of the worlds of news and sports is rare these days but last week it was front and center.
On Wednesday ABC showed its second installment of late night host Jimmy Kimmel reviving a pair of legendary Norman Lear-produced 1970s primetime classics, “Good Times” and “All in the Family.”
Andre Braugher and Viola Davis nicely took over the roles of James and Florida Evans that were made famous by John Amos (in a nice casting touch Amos played a Chicago alderman named Fred Davis in this episode) and Esther Rolle in “Good Times” while Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei did the same with that fictional blue collar first family from Queens, Archie and Edith Bunker. They certainly captured the spirit of the late Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton without doing a slavish imitation.
Three days later Eddie Murphy made his first return to Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in 35 years as he hosted “Saturday Night Live.” He was as funny as ever and the writers smartly gave him a chance to work in all of his beloved characters from the first Reagan administration: his Mister Rogers sendup, Mr. Robinson; his exaggeration of one of the mainstays of Hal Roach’s 1930s “Little Rascals” comedy shorts, Buckwheat; his foul-mouthed take on Art Clokey’s beloved clay animated figure, Gumby; and wannabe pimp Velvet Jones.
Murphy was arguably upstaged, however, by SNL cast member Cecily Strong with her just slightly over-the-top take on loud Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro during the faux news “Weekend Update” segment.