Jim Bintliff, mud farmer, somewhere in southern New Jersey
By Interview by Matthew Boyle

(FORTUNE Magazine) – NO BASEBALL CAN GO INTO A MAJOR LEAGUE game without being rubbed with Lena Blackburne mud. Lena was a third-base coach for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1930s and a friend of my grandfather's. At the time baseballs came with a factory gloss. Pitchers couldn't grip them, so they applied shoe polish, tobacco juice, and dirt. Lena brought some mud from his home in Palmyra, N.J., and soon all of the American League was using it. The farm is in south Jersey--that's all we'll say. You more or less skim the sediment off the top of the riverbank with a shovel. The Army Corps of Engineers did a study and found a high content of feldspar, which is just fine enough to remove the gloss without scratching the leather at all. I heard that Rawlings once tried to replicate the mud but couldn't do it. For spring training each Major League team gets one three-pound container for $45. Then, in February, I ship one to each home park. Through the season I get straggler orders--yesterday I shipped to the Colorado Rockies and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Nolan Ryan used to love the mud--he liked the balls black. -- Interview by Matthew Boyle