In 1921 Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle (1899-1992) came to Butler as an assistant coach on the BU athletics staff. A three-sport coach—basketball, football, and baseball—Hinkle led his teams to a combined 1,060 wins. His coaching career at Butler ended after the 1969–70 school year. However, he continued to work at Butler as a special assistant to the President until 1992.
Hinkle expected student-athletes to embody his values: “Humility, Passion, Unity, Servanthood, and Thankfulness.” This approach, now recognized as the “Butler Way”, demanded, as Hinkle stated, an outlook that expects “commitment, denies selfishness, accepts reality, yet seeks improvement every day while putting the team above self.”
As a basketball coach, his offensive strategy focused on playing for a good percentage of shots. Bob Dietz, a former player and assistant, described the “Hinkle system” as “everybody moved, everybody got to handle the ball, everybody got to shoot. . . . Everybody has a place to go and the ball keeps moving.” Hinkle is credited with developing the orange basketball, familiar to players and fans. Hinkle worked with the Spalding Company to create a ball that was more visible to players and fans than the muddy-brown balls then in use. By the late 1950s, the NCAA had adopted the orange basketball as the standard. The orange ball continues in use in both professional and amateur basketball.