Collins is one of three players to have made it to the major leagues who played for the storied Rapid City Post 22 American Legion baseball program in Rapid City, South Dakota. The other two are Kelvin Torve and Mark Ellis.
Collins was drafted in the first round of the 1972 draft from Mesa Community College by the California Angels. He made his professional debut with the Angels Rookie ball team in Idaho Falls and moved up through the Angels farm system, with stops in Single-A Quad City and Salinas, Double-A El Paso and Triple-A Salt Lake City. He was dubbed "fastest white man in baseball" because he ran the 100-yard dash in 9.6 seconds and had high stolen base totals.
He made his major league debut for the Angels on June 7, 1975, playing left field and batting leadoff, against the Milwaukee Brewers. He recorded his first career hit the following day against Brewers pitcher Tom Murphy.
After two seasons as a utility player and reserve outfielder with the Angels, he was selected by the Seattle Mariners with the 14th pick in the 1976 Major League Baseball expansion draft. He was the first batter for the Mariners in their first game, and scored the franchise's first run two days later.
After that 1977 season, the Mariners traded Collins to the Cincinnati Reds for Shane Rawley, and he spent the subsequent four seasons with the Reds. He hit .318 in 1979 and .303 in 1980, during which he also stole 79 bases.
Collins was signed by the New York Yankees as a free agent prior to the 1982 season, and was then traded with Mike Morgan, Fred McGriff and cash to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1983 for Tom Dodd and Dale Murray. He hit .271 and .308 in his two seasons in Toronto, and currently holds the Blue Jays single season stolen base record with 60 steals in 1984.
He was traded again, by the Blue Jays, (along with Alfredo Griffin and cash) to the Oakland Athletics for Bill Caudill in December 1984. Coliins hit .251 in 112 games for Oakland during the 1985 season and was then traded to the Detroit Tigers for Bárbaro Garbey in November 1985.
As a part-time outfielder with Detroit, he hit .270 and stole 27 bases. Picked up by the Montreal Expos as a free agent after the season, he was then cut during spring training and signed by the Cincinnati Reds, with whom he had previously had the most success. Used as a fourth outfielder/pinch hitter by the Reds, he found some success in the role, hitting .294 in 1987, but his average dropped to .236 in 1988 and 1989 and he was released.
Collins played one last season, in 1990, with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .224 in 99 games as a first baseman. He played briefly for the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association after his retirement from the majors. He finished with a career batting average of .272 in his 16-year career, with 1,335 hits.
Presently; Volunteering at the lighthouse correctional facility conducting one hour motivational and life skills to young offenders in hopes to enhance and change their life.
In addition to coaching at the Major and Minor League levels, Collins was also the head coach for Anna High School in Anna, Ohio from 1992 to 1994. He was the head baseball and basketball coach for Lake Orion High School in Lake Orion, Michigan from 1996 to 1998. In 2009, he was assistant coach for the Ontario Blue Jays 18U team.