Dick Enberg only followed tennis casually before NBC sent him to Wimbledon in 1979 for the first live coverage of what would become “Breakfast at Wimbledon.”
A little nervous about tennis terminology, he quickly found a friend: Bud Collins.
“I might be rehearsing or maybe on my first take and he’d say, ‘No, no, that’s not what a tennis reporter would say. Here’s what you really mean,’ ” Enberg said Friday after learning that Collins, a tennis historian and American voice of the sport, had died. He was 86 and had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Enberg and Collins soon became one of TV sports’ most recognizable couples, with Enberg’s “Oh my” trademark line combining with Collins’ stunningly colorful pants and personality to make “Breakfast at Wimbledon” destination viewing.
And about those pants. Collins had them custom-made from cloth he collected around the world. Yellow, violet and burgundy were among his favorite colors. He added strawberry embellishments for Wimbledon.
“He was as colorful as his trousers, which were his signature. And yet it was really misleading to the average fan,” Enberg said. “That was his MO for television. In person, he was the quietest guy in the room. He laughed the most at somebody else’s comment. He always had a smilie and never dominated the conversation.
“It’s a nice legacy to leave for all of this, to give back and share. He was more than generous.”