Every Baseball Is Rubbed with This Special Mud Before It Gets Used
Baseball, America’s past past time, is a pretty quirky game with quirkier players and quirkiest traditions. Chew tobacco! Sunflower seeds! Rally caps! Seventh Inning Stretch! And even a “special mud” that gets rubbed onto every single baseball in the major and minor leagues. Huh?
The mud is called Lena Blackburne Original Baseball Rubbing Mud and it comes from a secret spot in South Jersey off the Delaware River. Jim Bintliff, who owns Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, skims the top inch layer on the muddy riverbanks for collection and then puts the mud through screens to refine it before packaging it, aging it and shipping it to all the baseball teams in the MLB. Bintliff says the texture of his special mud is like chocolate pudding. Tasty.
The mud is applied because new baseballs are much too slick for pitchers to grip properly. Baseball ended up using Lena Blackburne’s special mud because its fine-grain sediments properties added grip without scratching the leather and messing up a ball’s trajectory.
The tradition of manually rubbing this special mud into balls started in the 1950’s and continues to this day.