Goodness! Gracious! Great Balls of Orange!

Charlie Finley Displays His Orange Balls

~ FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 1965 ~

Kansas City’s Finley “Saves” the Astrodome


Charles O. Finley turned into a rescue force for Houston’s Astrodome today.

He disclosed that his supply of orange baseballs were being shipped air express to the Houston Astros , after it was discovered yesterday that it’s almost impossible to see fly balls in the multi-million dollar Astrodome.

Finley had the orange balls made as an experiment over the past two years, but they have not won approval from either the American or National leagues.

~ Evansville (IN) Press, April 9, 1965


April 9, 1965: Mantle waits on a pitch from Turk Farrell. Later in the game, he would take Farrell deep for the first HR in Astrodome history.


By Curt Block

UPI Sports Writer

That  $31.6 million domed Colossus, Harris County Domed Stadium, home of the Houston Astros, has every wrinkle in the book plus a few that need to be ironed out.

The stadium is absolutely ideal for night baseball and the Astros were never better than last night when they delighted a partisan crowd of 47,876 that included President and Mrs. Johnson, with a 12-inning, 2-1 victory over the American League Champion New York Yankees.

6th inning: Mantle waits on the pitch from Farrell that will be the first HR in Dome history.

Many in attendance were gazing toward the President’s box or gaping at the luxurious interior of the of the six level structure in the sixth inning when Mickey Mantle unloaded a blast that landed on top of the center field wall 406 feet from home plate for New York’s only run. (Unmentioned here, Mantle’s blast was the first home run in Astrodome history.)

Houston tied the score in their half of the (sixth) inning on an unearned run and won in the twelfth when pinch hitter Nellie Fox delivered Jimmy Wynn with a single.

The Astros played error-less ball while the Yanks committed three miscues.

Curt Block, UPI Sports Writer, El Paso Herald Post, April 10, 1965, Page 17.


Great Balls of Orange.

It’s doubtful that Charlie Finley’s orange balls got any serious consideration as a solution to the massive sight-line problem for batted baseballs in the Astrodome during its 1965 original form. Problems of efficacy do not mix well for maverick club owners who get on the outs with both the Commissioner and the swamp of powerful owners who dislike those newbie folk who think they have an equally valued vote on things.

It’s still fun to imagine how differently the business of the game might have developed since 1965 had the original issue with day games been one that could have been solved with a simple switch to orange baseballs.

A tempest in a teapot rarely starts a house fire.


TPPE Note: Thanks to Darrell Pittman for the Charlie Finley article.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle











2 Responses to “Goodness! Gracious! Great Balls of Orange!”

  1. Mark W. Says:

    I sat in the right field box seats with my parents for that game, and I can assure you that Mantle’s homerun did not land on top of the center field wall! Mantle’s homer was a frozen rope that soared well over the center field wall and carried into what then was called the Domeskeller, with no bouncing or caroming off a wall as it disappeared from view.

  2. Jonathan Wilson Says:

    Unfortunately Finley’s Balls never made it to game play as it was discovered during the morning practice after receiving the prototypes that the orange color didn’t help. In an interview taken with Lum Harris, Manager of the Astros, on the second day in the Astrodome, prior to that day’s exhibition game, he states “we could not see the orange balls as good as the white balls” and an alternative solution was needed. Watch around the 4:05 mark in the interview in this link: Finley’s balls never made it to game play with major league teams until the early 70’s.

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