Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: Lena Blackburne Mud

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Miami, Florida
    Posts
    1,036

    Exclamation Lena Blackburne Mud

    Hello Baseball Fever Members & Guests,

    I am often asked about the story behind the mud rubbed on the balls before each game by the umpires. Here is an Associated Press article that I believe is second-to-none in terms of an explanation:

    Baseball's Mud Man Lives Quiet Life

    SEMINOLE, Fla. (AP) -- To his neighbors, Burns Bintliff is
    a retired New Jersey Turnpike maintenance contractor.
    To Major league players, who may not even know his
    name, he's the supplier of a silky, chocolate
    pudding-like product known as "magic mud."

    Umpires at every major and minor league ballpark in
    America and Canada use the mud, called Lena
    Blackburne Rubbing Mud, to take the shine of baseballs
    before each game.

    Shiny balls, straight out of their plastic wrapping,
    are no good, professionals say. Pitchers can't get a good grip
    and hitters are sometimes blinded when the sun or
    indoor lighting hits the too-white surface.

    Umpires say a little dab of Bintliff's mud removes the
    shine off balls without scratching or denting the
    surface.

    Bintliff's product is so superior to other muds,
    professionals say, that in 1969 it was permanently
    enshrined in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

    "There's something about this mud," retired major
    league umpire Bill Kinnamon told the St. Petersburg Times
    for its Monday editions. "I don't know how to explain it. It
    takes the shine off without getting the ball excessively
    dark."

    According to Bintliff's wife, Doris, Russell Aubrey "Lena"
    Blackburne was a major league infielder with the Chicago
    White Sox and later, a coach for the then-Philadelphia
    Athletics.

    At the time, the mid-1930s, teams used a variety of
    substances to rub baseballs -- tobacco juice, shoe polish,
    dirt from the baseball field or a combination -- but nothing
    they tried gave the balls the right look or feel.

    Blackburne searched for the perfect rubbing compound
    until one day, according to legend, he found mud he liked
    in a secret body of water, probably some place in the
    northeast.

    By 1938, he was supplying the mud to all American
    League teams. Because he was a die-hard American
    League fan, he refused to sell the mud to National
    League teams until the mid-1950s. Since then, every
    major and minor league team has used only the product.
    One container, a little more than 16 ounces, will
    usually last a season.

    "There's a can of it in every umpire's dressing room,"
    said Kinnamon "Before each game, we'd rub up about
    five dozen balls, more for a double header."

    Blackburne died in 1968 and left the mud business to
    his boyhood friend, John Haas, who was the father of
    Bintliff's first wife.

    Before he died, Haas shared the secrets of the mud with
    Bintliff, including its source. Today, the mud remains a
    mystery and only a few family members know where it
    comes from.

    Buddy Bates, equipment manager for the St. Louis
    Cardinals, said there is a tub of Bintliff's mud in his locker
    room. "We get it automatically every spring," Bates
    said. "It costs $100."

    I hope each of you found this as interesting as I did,

    Sean

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Las Vegas NV
    Posts
    3,076
    Wow, an amazing story - thank you! I was totally unaware that new balls needed the shine removed.

    R.B. from Down Under
    "A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz." ~Humphrey Bogart

    No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference. ~Tommy Lasorda

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    The Ballpark by the River
    Posts
    1,162
    Great story!
    I share pictures from my collection of baseball photographs on twitter @PastimeClassics

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    south carolina
    Posts
    16
    good read,thanx for posting

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    SW MOntgomery Co.,Tx.
    Posts
    174
    For a long time, my favorite baseball trivia question was: Who was and what is Lena Blackburn.....Now I will have to go in search of another. I believe I read someplace that the mud came from the Delaware River, but I wouldn't take an oath on that....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Troy, NY
    Posts
    2,827
    There is show on National Geographic IIRC, that this guy does these horrible jobs...such as sewer worker, bat biologist (knee deep in guano)

    One show he actually went and did the Lena Blackburne mud job...silting it and such...there is a guy in each clubhouse that uses that mud to rub the balls...nice job!

  7. #7

    Hi Folks!

    Sorry to post on a topic that is a few years old, but I hope someone sees this.

    I am working on an eagle sculpture project which relates to the story about the baseball rubbing mud. I live in Palmyra, NJ, and have always heard from everyone here that it comes from the Delaware River somewhere in Palmyra...our one claim to fame.

    Is it possible that this is just our little urban rumor? Or do you think it is true?

    Also, I have contacted Mr. Bintliff, son or grandson of the man mentioned in your article. He has a website you might find interesting:

    http://baseballrubbingmud.com

    PS: If anyone has any brilliant ideas as to how I can get some old beat up baseballs donated to this project, I need about 60 or 70 more. I am covering the back of a 6-ft fiberglas eagle with the leather skins from the balls. The older and more beat up, the better.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    SW MOntgomery Co.,Tx.
    Posts
    174
    That is the truth, as far as where it comes from is concerned.

    Ole Lena also managed the Little Rock Travelers in 1925. His record was 67-86, good for 8th place, but their attendance increased from 52,434 in '24 to 79,653 during Lena's year at the helm.

    Sorry, I can't help you out with the old baseball covers.
    Last edited by lamearm; 05-15-2005 at 10:01 PM.
    "I wanted to be a big league baseball player so I could see my picture on a bubblegum card."Al Ferrara

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    64
    You can buy the mud and rub em down.
    I bought some of the mud at a local sports shop in Remond WA.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Duke fan in Chapel Hill...
    Posts
    606
    There is a similar article in the sports section of the NYTimes today. I can't find it online, so here is the near same from Newsday:

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wi...on-apnewjersey
    Me, at a Boston restaurant, to a waiter:
    Are you sure the Manny Ramirez (name of burger) isn't a sloppy joe?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Freeport, IL
    Posts
    60
    There was also a episode of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel where they went to the guy to creates and packages the mud used, its a home business, pretty interesting.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Burbs of ChiTown
    Posts
    1,983
    Lena Blackburne - Boston Braves - Found the mud used to rub baseballs.JPG
    Here's a rare photo of Lena Blackburne playing for the Boston Braves in 1919
    A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn't work hard for validation. I didn't play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that's what you're supposed to do, play it right and with respect. If this validates anything, it's that learning how to bunt and hit and run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light at the dug out camera. - Ryne Sandberg

  13. #13
    That's amazing. I've never heard that one before. That's pretty cool.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Alpharetta Ga.
    Posts
    95
    i swear i've heard where it's from. i've heard somewhere in N.J. but i really think i've heard the river's name.
    Stay Away From Downed Power Lines.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Alpharetta Ga.
    Posts
    95
    ahhhhh. it's the delaware river
    Stay Away From Downed Power Lines.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Diboll, Texas
    Posts
    17
    I heard it was from somewhere in Maryland... That was years ago however.

  17. #17

    Where the Mud Is

    According to a 2003 article, Mr. Bintliff says that the source has changed twice. From what I've been able to discover, originally it was somewhere along the Rancocas Creek in Burlington County, NJ, and I believe it still is located there. Recently in an episode of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," they showed how they harvest the mud, and although they did not show the exact location, it had to be along the Rancocas Creek since there is no other body of water nearby. The Rancocas does empty into the Delaware River which explains how it is sometimes described as being harvested from a Delaware River tributary.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Oil Capital of the World
    Posts
    9
    The book 101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out by Josh Pahigian covers "The Baseball Mud Site" as one of the 101 places. It's an interesting book to read through if you travel to different baseball oriented landmarks.

    I'd like to get some of the mud just to have. There's quite a bit of history behind this "mysterious" substance.


  19. #19
    Did any of you happen to catch this clip online about this amazing mud?
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/28/bas...mud/index.html

  20. #20
    Wow, I first thought this was an elaborate hoax. Just wow...

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Outer Innerstan
    Posts
    3,123
    Blackburne also managed the White Sox and got beat up by Art "The Great" Shires at least twice over playing time.
    "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Outer Innerstan
    Posts
    3,123
    Quote Originally Posted by SportsLore View Post
    According to a 2003 article, Mr. Bintliff says that the source has changed twice. From what I've been able to discover, originally it was somewhere along the Rancocas Creek in Burlington County, NJ, and I believe it still is located there. Recently in an episode of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," they showed how they harvest the mud, and although they did not show the exact location, it had to be along the Rancocas Creek since there is no other body of water nearby. The Rancocas does empty into the Delaware River which explains how it is sometimes described as being harvested from a Delaware River tributary.
    That "creek" appears to be over 1000 feet wide at some points...it seems to eventually empty into the Atlantic Puddle.
    "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Section 538, Row 1
    Posts
    7,020
    Quote Originally Posted by TULSA OILERS View Post
    I'd like to get some of the mud just to have. There's quite a bit of history behind this "mysterious" substance.
    You can order it directly from the company (link). Here's a picture of an "institutional size" can ($43.00) on display at the Rawlings booth during the recent All-Star Fanfest (as part of a demonstration of how baseballs are made). If you don't need an institution's worth, a "personal size" can is $24.00.


    (Photo taken July 15, 2013. Gary Dunaier. Link to upload on Flickr.com: here.)
    X
    This is home now - Citi Field, capacity 41,800 - and every seat in this ballpark seemingly filled, some standees as well, anticipating a piece of history as delivered by Mike Pelfrey, the 25-year-old from Wichita, Kansas. Into a windup, his first pitch in the history of Citi Field, a fastball for a called strike to Jody Gerut. Gerut off to a .214 start with no homers and one RBI. - Howie Rose calls the very first pitch thrown at Citi Field, April 13, 2009

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Outer Innerstan
    Posts
    3,123
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Dunaier View Post
    You can order it directly from the company (link). Here's a picture of an "institutional size" can ($43.00) on display at the Rawlings booth during the recent All-Star Fanfest (as part of a demonstration of how baseballs are made). If you don't need an institution's worth, a "personal size" can is $24.00.
    [/SIZE]
    Wow, I'm tempted to buy a little can, too...I could use it at my daughter's tournaments and tell the girls they're using softballs rubbed up with real MLB mud!
    "EWWWWWWWWW..."
    "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •