Turbow: The making of Lena Blackburne’s baseball mud

From Jason Turbow at The National Pastime Museum on July 4, 2016:

In 1935, Lena Blackburne—one-time-phenom-shortstop-turned-utility-infielder-turned-coach-turned-manager-turned-coach again—was described by The Sporting News, 16 years after his playing career ended, in the only terms that mattered to the historical record. Never mind that he was “intelligent,” “industrious” and “a fighter,” all of which the newspaper took care to note. No, the most important facet of the man’s game was summarized in a tidy 11 words: “No matter where baseball gods have sent him, he has hustled.”

Hustling was what Blackburne did best. It’s why a guy with all those hyphens ended up batting only .214 as a big leaguer, yet still managed to string out his career until age 32. It’s also why in modern times, he’s remembered primarily for mud. That’s Blackburne’s name attached to the Delaware River goop shipped to big league clubhouses across the country, used for rubbing up new baseballs to remove the sheen and improve pitchers’ grips.

Lena Blackburne’s Rubbing Mud isn’t exactly a secret—it’s been in wide use since 1938 and can be purchased through the company website in sizes as small as a half pound. Its story, however, and that of Blackburne himself, have garnered far less attention.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/making-lena-blackburne-s-mud

Originally published: July 5, 2016. Last Updated: July 5, 2016.