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  • Where have I been???

    Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud

    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."
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  • #2
    Originally posted by BlueBrained@Sep 9 2005, 11:50 PM
    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."
    One of the great little stories in MLB...

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

    Comment


    • #3
      some have speculated its from the banks of delaware river in NJ.

      Comment


      • #4
        Burns Bintliff had a really bad case of mudbutt one day... and was out of TP.

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        • #5
          They couldn't just make the balls less shiny?
          Damn these electric sex pants!

          26+31+34+42+44+46+64+67+82+06 = 10

          Bring back the death penalty for corporations!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by dredbyrd@Sep 10 2005, 12:07 AM
            They couldn't just make the balls less shiny?
            I think it is more about the grip rather than the shine...
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            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BlueBrained+Sep 9 2005, 11:09 PM-->
              QUOTE(BlueBrained @ Sep 9 2005, 11:09 PM)

            • #8
              "Hitters like the balls light....pitchers like the balls dark".....just watched this (just now) on "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery Channel. Talked about where the mud came from and everything. Used the Phillies organization and the guy whose job it was to rub down the balls

              Comment


              • #9
                Not sure how to answer the question...

                Honestly, I recall seeing something about this many, many years ago...can't put a year on it...
                " Look, forget the myths the media's created about the White House--the truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand."

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by hansolo@Sep 9 2005, 10:53 PM
                  some have speculated its from the banks of delaware river in NJ.
                  Actually, from what I've read, knowing which river it came from isn't the question.

                  The Chicago Trib just had a big article on this guy about 3 weeks ago and in the article he actually takes them to the river he gets the mud from. The secret is in which bend in the river he goes to retreive the mud. Something about the way the water flows in a certain spot and they way it makes the mud settle.

                  However, I think you are right that it is the Delaware. Wish I could remember for sure what this article said or find it on the web.

                  Either way it is a cool little story.
                  Of course you do.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by Hepatitis Dispenser@Sep 10 2005, 12:16 AM
                    "Hitters like the balls light....pitchers like the balls dark".....just watched this (just now) on "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery Channel. Talked about where the mud came from and everything. Used the Phillies organization and the guy whose job it was to rub down the balls
                    I saw the same program...
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