The Jersey connection to the baseballs used in the Major Leagues
When you watch your favorite big league baseball team, every ball used has a connection to New Jersey. Mud. Yes, mud. You see, Major League baseballs are too shiny and slippery right out of the box, so they are rubbed with a special mud to reduce the shine and provide a better grip; that special mud comes from one place and one place only: New Jersey. It’s called Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud and comes from a company in Margate, although the exact source of the mud is a closely guarded secret.
According to the company’s website, it all started back in 1938 when an umpire lamented the sorry state of the balls used in play to Lena Blackburne, the third base coach of the Philadelphia Athletics. At that time dirt from the infield was used to make the mud used on the balls and it softened the texture of the balls. Lena went home to Burlington County and scouted out mud holes along the Delaware River and took some mud back to the big league clubhouse and rubbed up some balls. It turned out that the mud was perfect; it took the shine off the ball but didn’t discolor the balls or add any odor.
By the time Lena died, every Major League, and most Minor League teams were using the “magic mud.” The secret location has been passed down and every July, workers go out to the secret mud hole and pack up hundreds of pounds of mud into barrels where it sits and settles until the following spring. Others have tried to copy the mud, but no one has ever equaled the special New Jersey mud provided by the Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud. Play ball!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.