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Friday, July 30, 2010

Rubbing Mud: A Secret Society

Anyone who has ever played the game of baseball knows that you can't just pull a new ball out of its wrapper and start to use it. They are pearly white but also extremely slippery. You have to darken them up just a little, and give them some grip. How do you do this? You rub them down with a secret mud concoction. I got a chance to talk to the Freedom's Clubhouse Manager, Randy, who gave me some insight into how he likes his balls to be rubbed.

Just so everyone knows a little history behind rubbing mud on baseballs, I'm going to take us back in time. In 1938, umpires began complaining that balls were too white, too slick, and open to tampering. A man named Lena Blackburn, an old Philadelphia Athletics coach, found a spot in the Delaware River, where he discovered the miracle mud. It didn't blacken the ball, but it added grip and kept pitchers from being able to doctor it as easily. The spot on that river in New Jersey is still a secret to this day. The secret was passed down after Blackburn's passing, but the MLB still uses the very same mud for every single game ball.

As for Randy, he has his own secret recipe. He has a few jars of Blackburn's rubbing mud in his office, but they are pricey, and he feels his recipe does the job just as well. Check out the video below as Randy walks us through the making of his own rubbing mud.

video


After Randy walked me through the steps he uses to make his own rubbing mud, he showed me a finished product. It's visibly darker, but not by much. It's also far less slick. The pitchers are singing his praises. I want to thank Randy for letting us in on one of the biggest secret societies baseball has in it's amazing history.

(Mud rubbed ball on left / New, unrubbed ball on right)

2 comments:

  1. Great job with the story, I really appreciated you taking the time to listen to some of the history and watch as I made my own version of Kentucky mud...haha...

    Randy

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  2. Wow. Absolutely splendid journalism. I am blown away by the neetness of this so totally awesome story. I can't believe how exciting this process is. Very neeto guys! Keep up the wonderfully awesome job!

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