Collins joined the major leagues in 1895 as a member of the Louisville Colonels, but would finish the season with the Boston Beaneaters who are now the Atlanta Braves. He asserted himself as a skilled player in 1897 when he held a .346 batting average and knocked in 132 runs. He followed with an equally impressive 1898 season, in which he hit .328, drove in 111 runs and belted a league-high 15 home runs.
However it was Collins' defense that made him a star. He was best known for his ability to field a bunt -- prior to his debut, it was the shortstop who fielded bunts down the third base line - and is regarded as a pioneer of the modern defensive play of a third baseman.
Collins joined the Boston Red Sox in 1901 as a player manager. He led the team to the World Series title in 1903 and the American League pennant in 1904.
Collins was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1907 and retired there after the 1908 season. He finished his career with 65 home runs, 1055 runs, 983 RBI and a .294 batting average.
When Collins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945 he was the first to be chosen primarily as a third baseman. In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.