We know baseball is quirky. Superstitions. Rituals. Hand signals.
But to this day there’s a certain kind of mud rubbed on the baseballs used in major league games? And no one is to know the location of where the mud can be found?
The only thing that seems a bit stranger than fiction here is that this is true.
Lena Blackburne found it while fishing. He had so wanted to be an actual star ball player. It did not work out that way. But his mud, a sample of it, has made it to Cooperstown. Yep, the Hall of Fame has some of the miracle mud on display!
David A. Kelley has a wonderful book — for young and old — so nicely illustrated by Oliver Dominguez aptly entitled “Miracle Mud”. Mr. Kelley is an established children’s book author, among other talents. He has written other books about baseball. A visit to his web site is instructive: davidakellybooks.com.
But, many of us baseball fans never quite grew up… So the book Miracle Mud is for us too. Reading about the miracle mud is like watching a Disney movie at the age of 7, if you ask me. It’s somewhere between mysterious and enlightening.
And, what else is there about our beloved past time we haven’t learned about just yet?
Before the use of this miracle mud, baseballs were rubbed in a mixture of water and infield soil. Problem is this method typically discolored the leather surface of the ball. Tobacco juice, shoe polish, and soil from in or around the bleachers didn’t work. And then along comes Lena Blackburne, by then a third base coach for the Philadelphia Athletics, who in 1938 set out in search of a better mud.
I guess it’s the muddy grail right? And, all I have found through research is that in time Lena discovered the mud somewhere near Palmyra, New Jersey. We are not to know the exact location of where this miracle mud exists. But, by the 1950s the mud was in use by every major league team, and continues to be so to this day.
Well then, we know the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come…”
Now I offer this phrase as well: “If you rub it with the mud, they will play ball…”