October 15, 2013


The New Ball

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com @collbaseball


Even before UCLA captured last season’s national title with pitching, defense and sacrifice bunts, college baseball coaches around the country were calling for change, change that would bring some of the offence back to the college game. Longtime Clemson coach Jack Leggett, for one, suggested early in the season the NCAA make a switch in baseballs, trading the current ball for the ball used in Minor League Baseball, a harder ball with lower seams that would carry an estimated 20 to 30 feet farther.


And as the Bruins celebrated, it was hard not to find a college coach who thought change was necessary after a College World Series that produced only three homers. The same night UCLA earned its first national title in college baseball, longtime Stanford assistant Dean Stotz, who recently retired, wrote in an email to fellow college coaches, “We have taken a great game and made it BORING.”


The debate continues among college coaches. Should change occur, it wouldn’t come before the 2015 season.


New Mexico pitching coach Dan Spencer (pictured above), the pitching coach for Oregon State during its back-to-back championship runs in 2006-07 and former head coach at Texas Tech, offered his thoughts on the college ball to CollegeBaseballInsider.com.


“Regarding the new baseball: Is a 10-8 game really better than a 4-3 game? Is a three-and-a-half-hour game better than a two-and-a-half-hour game? My answer would be no to both. 


"If we really are trying to be more like Major League Baseball, then change the ball and the bat. My feeling is that the truth behind new ball legislation is that there are coaches that do not like the parity that has been created in part by the bat we currently use. No longer is the best athlete or the strongest hitter a home run threat just because he is a great athlete and strong. Now a hitter has to have an aptitude to hit and be well-coached. Our game as it stands today does not reward hitters for hitting around the ball and lofting fly balls to the pull side. These routine fly balls are outs like they are supposed to be.


“Regarding the pitching: It is hard enough to get college pitchers to pitch to contact and yet we want to make it harder? Because the reality is the livelier the ball or bat is will have a direct impact on base-on-ball ratios. Are more walks going to make us more entertaining? 


“Regarding the College World Series: I believe that the dimensions and the way the new field sits as related to the prevailing winds in Omaha in late June have a much more direct correlation to the home runs hit there then the baseball. If certain programs want to hit more home runs, then they can move their fences in. Let the rest of us enjoy the balance and parity that currently exists in college baseball.”


(photo courtesy of TTU Media Relations)