Oakland Athletics Owner Charlie Finley Suggested The Change

Published on December 14th, 2023 10:38 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The orange ball experiment took place in 1970s Major League Baseball. Orange baseballs. Green bats. Two strikes for a strikeouts.

These were just some of the "innovations" that Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley proposed during his run as owner of the team.

Finley, who was a self-described "showman", had no problem changing things up, even if it meant infuriating baseball purists.


After the Athletics won the title in 1972, other owners were more receptive to Finley's ideas, as he suddenly had a great deal of sway.

One of Finley's ideas, the designated hitter rule, was implemented for the 1973 season.

Another one of his ideas - the orange baseball - was given a test run during spring training in the same year.


Finley's thought process was straightforward - he felt that orange baseballs would be easier for both players and fans to track.

No more losing the ball in the lights - no more losing site of the baseball at home while fans watched on television.

Finley felt as though hitters would be able to pick up the ball better, which would lead to an explosion of offense.

Other sports had changed the color of their balls (tennis, for instance) - why not baseball?


The "orange baseball" experiment lasted for two games.

Charlie Finley was right about a couple of things:

1) The orange baseball resulted in an explosion of offense, with 16 runs being scored in the first game that used the colorful ball

2) The orange baseball was easier for players, fans and announcers to track


So - why didn't the league continue with the experiment?

To start, batters complained that they couldn't pick up the spin of the baseball when it came out of the hand of the opposing pitcher. This is due to the fact that baseballs use red stitching, and this made it impossible to pick up against the orange of the leather on the baseball.

Secondly, the ball was deemed to be too "slippery", likely due to whatever was used to color the baseball orange.


Charlie Finley had some very good ideas, but the orange baseball was not one of them.

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