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Baseball Rubbing Mud

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Baseball Rubbing Mud

Postby StlSluggers » Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:32 pm

Never heard of this until now. Is there anyone here who actually plays/ed the game that had heard of this stuff?

Any knowledgeable baseball fan will tell you that the big league baseball teams never use brand new baseballs in a game. They're too shiny to play with. So, what do umpires use to prep the balls and dull the shine?

New Jersey mud.

For nearly fifty years, a special variety of Jersey muck, Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, has been removing the sheen from baseballs for just about every professional baseball team in the country.

It all began in 1938 when an umpire complained to Lena Blackburne, a third base coach for the old Philadelphia Athletics, about the sorry condition of the baseballs used by the American League. Back then a ball was prepped simply with mud made of water and dirt from the playing field. The result? The ball's cover was too soft, leaving it open for tampering. Something was needed to take off the shine but not soften the cover.

Blackburne took on the challenge. Next time he returned to his home in Burlington County, he checked out the mud along tributaries of the Delaware River until he found some muck (the whereabouts of the mud hole is still a dark secret) with a texture he felt would do the job. Taking a batch to the Athletics' field house, he rubbed some balls with the stuff. It worked like a charm! What's more, it had no odor and didn't turn the balls black. The umpires were happy, and Lena Blackburne was in the mud supply business.

Soon the entire American League was using the amazing gunk. Later, the National League took to using it. Before Blackburne's death in the late 50's, his baseball rubbing mud was being used by every major and most minor leagues in the United States.
Blackburne's mud business, along with the secret of the mud's source, was willed to a close pal, John Haas, who had worked with Blackburne on his mud-finding exploits. Haas eventually turned over the enterprise to his son-in-law, Burns Bintliff. Burns in turn passed it on to son Jim and his family.

Each July the Bintliff crew heads a boat out to the "ole mud hole" and scoops up hundreds of pounds of the "Magic Mud", enough for one season. Then the precious product rest in barrels until the next spring when it's packed and shipped to each of the major league teams, minor league teams, most independent leagues and many colleges in time for opening day.

Does Jim Bintliff wave a magic wand over the mud during the winter, or add some mysterious ingredients to it? That too is a dark secret. He'll never tell. What counts is that the muck, described as resembling a cross between chocolate pudding and whipped cold cream, really works! Other kinds of mud and even mechanical methods have been tried to de-slick baseballs, but they couldn't make the grade.

So, when the umpire yells "Play ball!" rest assured, good New Jersey mud will be part of the game.


http://baseballrubbingmud.com/main.htm
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Postby TheYanks04 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:03 pm

That's been pretty well known for quite some time... at least the fact that NJ/Delaware River mud is used to take the slick off of new baseballs.
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Postby Mookie4ever » Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:35 pm

I had heard of it and then I saw either a documentary or a news item where they followed umps around for a day and it was part of their pre-game ritual to open up several boxes of balls and rub them down with this special dirt.
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Postby Copperheads » Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:47 pm

A month or so ago there was a show in Discovery that had someone go out with the guy who does this and actually shows them removing the mud from the river and how they sift through it and bottle plus ship it. Fairly simple process but interesting.
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Postby MMoNeY24 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:13 pm

I definitely remember watching this, I'm pretty sure on ESPN.
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Postby mak1277 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:04 pm

A brand new, un"muddy'd" baseball is one slick puppy. If the balls weren't rubbed up, it would be impossible to get a good, consistent grip.
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Postby Amazinz » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:10 pm

Copperheads wrote:A month or so ago there was a show in Discovery that had someone go out with the guy who does this and actually shows them removing the mud from the river and how they sift through it and bottle plus ship it. Fairly simple process but interesting.

Dirty jobs, right? Great episode.
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Postby baseball6791 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:42 pm

TheYanks04 wrote:That's been pretty well known for quite some time... at least the fact that NJ/Delaware River mud is used to take the slick off of new baseballs.


Yeah...
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Postby Half Massed » Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:54 pm

That would be a strange business to own, but it must do well.
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Postby Copperheads » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:52 am

It is not some big elaborate business. It is just a guy who takes the mud from the river with shovel and 5 gallon buckets. The sifting process was not automated. It is just him in back of a barn with a big oil barrel and a sifting screen made from 2x4's.
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