Why not mud a baseball?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sitting on the top row on the first-base side at Wrigley Field last August, I couldn’t believe I was watching the Chicago Cubs.

Growing up, I went to countless Atlanta Braves baseball games in what was Fulton County Stadium. I’ve even been to a few games at Turner Field, one of my favorite ball parks in the country.

Wrigley Field though, was a sight to behold.

On Sunday, the Major League Baseball season will officially begin. On Mon., April 1, there will be 12 Opening Day games to get the rest started as well.

When I think about the start of baseball season, I now reflect on my time at Wrigley Field on that August day and the act of rubbing mud into a baseball.

I don’t know why I think of that, but it’s always stuck out to me.

Puddled in a Delaware River near New Jersey, the Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud awaits to be spread on dozens of balls for the upcoming season.

I had read a story about the baseball rubbing mud about four years back, and it helped answer my burning question of how the mud was spread on the baseballs.

Chris Van Zant, who is Atlanta’s Clubhouse and Team Travel Manager, has had his hand in rubbing thousands of balls for the Braves with the mud.

In the CNN article, Van Zant said he estimates more than 40,000 baseballs have passed through his hands in the 10 years he has been with the club back in 2009.

“Wow, that’s a lot of mud,” I remember thinking.

Before it’s shipped out in plastic canisters to major league baseball teams, the mud has to cure and sit for months, according to the same article.

While the said article was printed the day of the start of the 2009 World Series, where the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 to win the series, the mud was the most fascinating aspect of the story.

From its humbled beginnings, it’s played a big part of baseball since early in the 20th century.

In Chicago on that hot and balmy August day, I was also in the midst of history at Wrigley Field.

Only this time, I wasn’t thinking about how the Cubs were losing to Cincinnati 3-0 in the seventh inning, but about the mud that’s spread on the many baseballs in a season — something I’d like to try one day.