Baseball Rituals – Conditioning the Ball

I am participating in a Flickr group this year called 52 in 2013. Every week there is a theme ย for which we are challenged to create a photograph. this week’s theme is “Sport.” I knew I wanted to do something around baseball and began my search for an old ball to use in the shot. I did find some in an antique shop, but was a bit pricey. So, being a mixed-media artist with knowledge of all things distressed, I bought a new ball and took it through an “aging” process. I sanded it, filed it, buried it in my garden, then dug it up and sprayed walnut stain on it. Pleased with my results, I set up my still life and took the picture. When Brian came home, I shared my photo with him…bless him, he was impressed! He asked where I got the ball and I shared my story. He then shared a story with me about how the umpires for Major League Baseball condition new balls. I was inspired by his story and decided to do a little homework and discovered the following:

In 1920, Ray Chapman, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians was killed by a wild pitch with a new ball (which are shiny and slick.) Umpires began looking for a way for pitchers to get a better grip on a new baseball by conditioning it. They tried tobacco juice, shoe polish, and dirt from the infield. All of which damaged the leather of the ball.

Then, in 1938 Lena Blackburne, manager for the Philadelphia Athletics suggested using mud from a place he knew near his home in New Jersey, which he thought would condition the ball perfectly…and it did!

And so, umpires TO THIS DAY condition baseballs with Lena Blackburne mud, the official conditioning mud for Major League Baseball! This also means that I broke the official rules with my method of conditioning the ball. Please don’t report me!

Go HERE to learn more about this special mud

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About Carol

Thank you in advance for respecting my art. All the images and text posted to this blog are owned my me and protected by copyright law. Copying any of the content here without permission is against the law and you know, not cool. Many thanks again.
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4 Responses to Baseball Rituals – Conditioning the Ball

  1. Dotti says:

    What a fun post, Carol! You did a fabulous job on that baseball. My dad was a lifelong Yankees fan and we all grew up watching and going to the games with him. Now … I don’t much like baseball anymore although my brother and his kids are avid fans. But I have great memories of the sport …

  2. That is a funny story, Carol about how you went about this and I am impress with what you did for the challenge this week. You were looking for aged balls and I kept looking in my bunch of golf balls for some that were not. Most of my balls are in a bowl and have been left outside in our harsh sun for 7 years since leaving CA. Most have seen better days with the sun here and I kept looking for some that were not so aged.

    Also as I was reading about what you were doing I thought why not just put a texture over the ball in PS but then again I am funny. I did clean up my golf balls in PS.

  3. geetlee says:

    Hi Carol,

    Lovely work with the ball. You are so very talented ๐Ÿ™‚

    The beautiful tulips you gifted me have made our apartment look so pretty! Every time I look at them I think of you ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Radish says:

    Carol, did you redo your blog? I really like the looks of this. I personally love little bits of information like this.

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