The Secret Sauce

Emma Baccellieri, writing for Sports Illustrated, tells the story about how Major League Baseball requires every ball be rubbed with a special mud from the banks of the Delaware River before being used in an official game.

This always does the trick. It prevents anyone from exploring what he’s actually doing, which is what he’s done for decades, what his father did before him, and his grandfather before him: Bintliff is collecting the mud that is used to treat every single regulation major league baseball, roughly 240,000 per season.

Mud is a family business; it has been for more than half a century. For decades, baseball’s official rule book has required that every ball be rubbed before being used in a game. Bintliff’s mud is the only substance allowed. Originally marketed as magic,” it’s just a little thicker than chocolate pudding — a tiny dab is enough to remove the factory gloss from a new ball without mucking up the seams or getting the cover too filthy. Equipment managers rub it on before every game, allowing pitchers to get a dependable grip. The mud is found only along a short stretch of that tributary of the Delaware, with the precise location kept secret from everyone, including MLB.

I did not know this about MLB baseballs and I come from a huge baseball family. The fact that the location is secret makes me chuckle.

August 7, 2019


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