An owner of the Oakland A's baseball club, he was a strident advocate for changes in a game that remained proudly tied to tradition.
He made his early fortune by selling a novel group insurance plan for doctors.
Some of his suggestions, like an orange baseball, never gained traction with the A's, but on the other hand his designated hitter rule and night games for the World Series became a standard.
He was born in Ensley, Alabama, Birmingham, but was raised in Gary, Indiana, where he followed in his father's footsteps working in a steel mill.
He hired a teenager named Stanley Burrell, later to become MC Hammer, to be his eyes and ears.