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Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud That Changed Baseball Library Binding – January 1, 2013


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Product Details

  • Lexile Measure: 480L (What's this?)
  • Library Binding: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761380922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761380924
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 2-4-Most readers of this picture-book biography will not know about "Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud," which has been used to prepare baseballs before every game for the past 75 years. However, once they hear this tale, they will never again look at a game ball in the same way. Blackburne was never an outstanding player, but he will go down in history for developing a solution to the wet, soggy baseballs that could be difficult to throw during a game. One day after fishing, he stepped in some soft, gooey mud and an idea was born. Because the mud took the shine off any new white baseball, he began to sell it. Dominguez's illustrations, which are painterly in style, look as if pastels were used to draw the dramatic baseball poses in a variety of perspectives. The author appends a note about why baseball players prefer a dirty ball to a bright white one. Front endpapers show squeaky clean balls while the back endpapers exhibit balls after they have used Lena's Rubbing Mud. This accessible story with be enjoyable to a larger audience than just baseball fans.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Kids looking for a quirky topic to fill an assignment on inventors are going to appreciate this picture-book biography. The invention of baseball mud came about because new baseballs were too shiny and slick for pitchers to get a good grip, and the sheen blinded batters. Many methods were used to remedy this, from soaking the balls in dirty water, which made them soggy and soft, to using spit and tobacco juice, which was just, well, nasty. Enter Lena Blackburne, a baseball player with limited success who eventually settled into coaching in the early part of the twentieth century. While he was fishing near his home, the mud sticking to his boots gave him the idea of rubbing it on baseballs, and Lena Blackburne’s Baseball Rubbing Mud was born. Today all baseballs used in major league games are rubbed with this mud. The colorful, exaggerated paintings artfully (and comically) capture the full allure of ballpark ambiance by including plenty of behind-the-scenes activity. The information provided in the minimal text is bolstered by a solid two-page author’s note. Grades 2-4. --Randall Enos

More About the Author

David A. Kelly is an established book, magazine, and newspaper writer who has written for a wide variety of outlets, including:

- Author, Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse, Random House, Spring, 2009, Ballpark Mystery Series, Random House, Spring, 2011
- Contributor, The New York Times "Practical Guide to Practically Everything"
- Travel writer, New York Times, Boston Globe, New York Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Miami Herald, multiple AAA publications and many more newspapers and magazines
- Technology writer, New York Times, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, and many other corporate magazines
- Business Travel Expert, About.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Library Binding
The crowds clustered around the outside of the stadium, anxious to see a great game and some great players. As much as Lena Blackburne "wanted to be a famous baseball player," it just wasn't going to happen. Instead, in time, he was going to be famous for something else altogether and that special something was none other than mud. As men climbed up and down a ladder setting the scores on an old-fashioned scoreboard Lena was out there playing. It didn't seem to matter what base he played, he wasn't climbing up the fame ladder by any means. It all began in 1910 as Lena started playing "for lots of baseball teams." The Hall of Fame just wasn't calling his name.

After his time was up on the field, Lena began coaching. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully as "an umpire complained to Lena about the baseballs." New baseballs were just too darned "shiny and slick" to pitch and so players did everything they could do to solve the problem. They soaked them. Too soggy, too messy. Shoe polish wasn't the answer and "spit and tobacco juice" was kind of disgusting. Lena stared at one of those shiny, slick baseballs trying to think up a solution. When he went home to Jersey he headed out to do a bit of fishing and "stepped into some dark brown mud." Hmmmmm! Could this gooey stuff be the solution to the baseball dilemma?

This is an intriguing story about Lena Blackburne and his super secret special mud. Of course no one ever heard of Lena Blackburne and his less than memorable Major League Baseball stats in spite of having played 550 games. However, there's probably not a single player in the league that hasn't heard of his super secret mud. Lena Blackburne's "Baseball Rubbing Mud" became famous and did change the face of baseball.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adrienne Alexander on February 13, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
LOVE this one.....any baseball fan needs this book. It tells the history of why mud is used on baseballs before a game.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As someone who isn’t really all that into sports I didn’t know about Lena Blackburne before reading the book MIRACLE MUD.

Thankfully this book was published, because now I can share with others not just his amazing story but the example he sets for so many of us when it comes to what is possible.

Lena Blackburne started off wanting to be a great baseball player, but when he realized that this dream would not be realized then he turned to coaching. It was during that time that he heard from players about the balls they were playing with. Taking their concerns into consideration Lena set out to see how he could fix the problem and help them during the game. An incident with mud was the spark that led him to create the answer, and now he is known for that amazing creation.

What MIRACLE MUD shows me is that maybe you won’t be able to do everything that you want, but this doesn’t mean that you want be able to make a difference in the world in other ways. For Lena he had no idea that his genuine love for the game and to help others would lead to something historic—but it did. May that be an example for us as well.
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Format: Library Binding
Is this humor or what? I thought it was illegal to put anything on a baseball. Recently, while watching a major league baseball game, the batter challenged the pitcher insisting that he was putting something on the ball like some warm spit that might taint the movement of the ball while traveling toward home plate. Nowadays all I see is a pitcher rubbing a ball in his hands before delivering a pitch.
But in this exciting baseball story, David A. Kelly, the author, combines a fishing trip and baseball to enlighten baseball fanatics with the genius of a baseball entrepreneur, Lena Blackburne, who discovers some mud that will take an annoying slick, shiny appearance off that little while round ball with the stitches that looks like an appendix scare. Will it work? Read on and discover for yourself the pros and cons to a delightful baseball story filled with humor.
Once again, David A. Kelly, gives curious minds a mystery filled with suspense using a baseball platform that will captivate readers of all ages. And I like surprises and I like to laugh. Marvin P. Ferguson, author of THE UNKNOWN BASEBALL PLAYER.
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Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
"Miracle Mud" should be a good choice for any reader interested in baseball. But I bought it for a nine year old who is interested in baseball and also is a reader. It was interesting to me because I did not know about mudding a baseball to keep it from being too shiny and slick, nor did I know anything about Lena Blackburne.
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