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Who was Russell Lena Blackbourne?


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Answered 2005-09-07 14:22:16

From LENA BLACKBOURNE'S RUBBING MUD by: Mrs. Larsen, courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society Since 1938, Major League Baseball has been relying on a natural resource found only in New Jersey. At that time, an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds named Russell Lena Blackbourne came to New Jersey looking for a certain kind of mud. Blackbourne had visited many streams to dig up mud, which he then rubbed on new baseballs to make them easier to grip. Blackbourne found a stream near Willingboro, New Jersey that had a certain kind of mud on the bottom which, when he rubbed on a new baseball, would not change the baseball's color, but improved its grip. He kept the location of this stream a secret, and began to harvest the mud, package it in cans, and sell it to Major League Baseball. When Blackbourne died, his friend John Haas continued packaging and selling the special mud. Lena Blackbourne's Rubbing Mud is still used today in Major League Baseball. Before every game, the mud is rubbed on 5 dozen new baseballs. There is even a can of the mud on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and the place where it is found in New Jersey is still a well kept secret. American League umpire Harry Geisel's complaints about slick baseballs sparked the practice.


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