Phil Collier began his newspaper career at the tender age of 13 as a sports statistician for the Baytown (Texas) Sun and as a semi-pro baseball stringer for the Houston Post.
Following military service during World War II and graduation from Texas Christian University (moonlighting for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram between classes), Collier joined the San Diego Union in 1953. He was their Pacific Coast League correspondent for his first five years before being assigned to the Dodger games. From 1961 to 1969 he covered both the Dodgers and the Angels, attending 200 games a year and working seven days a week from late February through mid-October. He covered the Padres when they debuted as a National League expansion team in 1969, and in 1987 he became the paper's national baseball writer.
During his career Collier has enjoyed numerous scoops including Sandy Koufax's unexpected retirement from the game in 1966 and Leo Durocher's appointment as Cubs manager. Other feathers in Collier's baseball cap include his presidency of the BBWAA, his serving as official scorer in Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego, and his role as correspondent for The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press and Copley Press.