I'm not a huge fan of baseball, but this book drew me in immediately. Lena Blackburne wanted to be a famous baseball player, but he just wasn't that good. So he became a coach instead. All along, there had been problems with the baseballs. I learned from this book that brand new balls are too shiny for players to see, so players tried all sorts of methods to make the balls less shiny, such as soaking the balls in dirty water, using shoe polish, spit, or tobacco juice. One day when Lena was fishing he stepped in the mud and got a great idea--why not use the mud on the baseballs? After rubbing mud on the baseballs, letting it dry, and wiping it off, the balls were no longer shiny! Lena started selling the mud and the mud became the only thing allowed on major league baseballs--no shoe polish or spit allowed anymore. While Lena Blackburne never made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his playing, his mud did end up in the Hall of Fame.
An author's note at the end of the book gives much more information about mud farming and about Lena Blackburne.
I was fascinated by this book and hope you will be too.
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