Henry Warren (Harry or Rip) Collins, athlete and law officer, the son of H. W. Collins, was born at Weatherford, Texas, on February 26, 1896. The Collinses moved to Austin, where their son attended Austin High School and quickly established a reputation as a versatile athlete. Collins was chiefly known for his ability to punt a football long distances with a peculiar spin that made the ball almost impossible to handle. His punting and running ability helped him lead his team to two consecutive state championships in 1913 and 1914.
Collins wanted to attend the University of Texas after graduation. The UT coach, however, questioned his desire and endurance after watching Collins leave a game because of an ankle injury. Consequently, Collins chose to attend Texas A&M University and was on the team when the heavily favored Longhorns took the field against the Aggies in 1915. Collins punted the ball twenty-three times that afternoon for an average of fifty-five yards per kick. The crazy spin he placed on the ball resulted in thirteen fumbles by Texas return men. One fumble set up the only touchdown scored that day, a run by Collins. The final score was 13–0.
Collins joined the United States Army and spent the fall season of 1916 playing on the Second Texas Infantry Team. After he returned to school in 1917 his punting ability became the team's main offensive weapon. Often the Aggies punted on second down. "I knew the quickest, farthest and safest way to get that ball down the field was to let him kick it down there," the coach explained years later. The strategy worked. In 1917 the Aggies went undefeated and unscored on. By the end of his college career Collins's punting ability was legendary; he is still regarded as the best punter in Southwest Conference history.
He was equally talented at throwing a baseball and as a high school pitcher had received a contract offer in 1915 from the Texas League. After the Aggies' undefeated football season Collins fulfilled his contractual obligations and became a starting pitcher for Dallas. He spent a year there and left in 1920 to join the New York Yankees. In his first season in the major leagues he was fourteen and eight and recorded two shutouts. He followed that with an eleven and five mark in 1921. At the end of that season he joined the Boston Red Sox. His longest stay with any one team was with the Detroit Tigers (1923–28). He finished his career in St. Louis (1929–31). During his eleven years as a starting pitcher Collins had an earned-run average of 3.99 and 108 wins against eighty-two losses. The victories included fifteen shutouts. Throughout his career he did spot duty as a relief pitcher, in which role he compiled a nine and seven record with five saves. He had only one home run, however, in 582 turns at bat. Collins returned to the Texas League in 1933 and played one season in Fort Worth before retiring from baseball.
He then joined the Texas Rangers. He was elected Travis county sheriff in 1940 and served for eight years. He became police chief of Bryan in 1950 and retired from law enforcement work in 1959. Collins married Letitia Ethel Parmele in 1917; they had three children. Letitia died in 1946 and Collins married Ruth Duff several years later. Harry Collins died in Bryan on May 27, 1968, and was buried in College Station Cemetery.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every penny helps.
Please make your contribution today.
Austin American, May 29, June 27, 1968.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Sports and Recreation
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Collins, Henry Warren,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
October 2, 2019