Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud That Changed Baseball


Product Details

Millbrook Press (Tm)
Publish Date
10.0 X 9.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.01 pounds

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About the Author

David A. Kelly is an established children's book author, travel writer, and technology analyst.
After years of working with technology companies, David starting writing travel stories for the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and many other newspapers. When he became too busy playing baseball with his two sons to travel, he started writing children's books. His first book, Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse, tells the true story of Babe Ruth and the curse of the Bambino. His Ballpark Mysteries series of chapter books follows cousins Mike and Kate to different major league ballparks to solve a mystery.Miracle Mud is his first picture book. It's a good bet that his next book might be baseball-related as well!
David lives 15 minutes from Boston's Fenway Park in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife Alice, two sons, Steven and Scott, and a dog named Samantha. For more information, visit David's webpage - www.davidakelly.com or his Ballpark Mysteries website - www.ballparkmysteries.com.
Oliver Dominguez was born and raised in Miami. He has illustrated multiple pictures books, including Miracle Mud (2013). He lives in Florida with his wife, two dogs, and a collection of unique hats. Visit him online at cargocollective.com/oliverdominguez.


"A baseball entrepreneur finds a solution to a long-standing technical problem.
Lena Blackburne was at best a journeyman player. He played several positions for several teams, and later, he became a coach just to remain a part of the game he loved. In the first part of the 20th century, new baseballs were hard to handle since they were too shiny and slick, so many different methods were used to dull them. Shoe polish, spit, tobacco juice and dirty water were all tried, but each caused additional problems, as did employing only old, beat-up balls for the entire game. Blackburne was determined to find a better way. When he serendipitously stepped into some soft, gooey, gritty mud at a fishing hole near his home, he brought some to the ballpark, tried it out on some new baseballs and produced perfect results. At first, he provided them only for his own team, but then he sold tubs of the mud to all professional teams. Eventually it became--and still is--the only substance allowed on any baseball. Kelly provides information about an unusual aspect of the game in a sprightly, entertaining story with a great 'aha' moment. Dominguez's bright, expressive double-page spreads follow the events closely and make them live.
For young fans who love the odd, fun details of baseball." --Kirkus Reviews--Journal

"This story is sure to hook young baseball fans with its action-packed illustrations and unique subject matter. Kelly begins with Lena Blackburne's baseball career, as a coach he discovered the dark New Jersey mud now rubbed on baseballs and for which he is famous. This magic mud solved the problem of slippery baseballs and solidified Blackburne's place in the Hall of Fame. Dominguez's illustrations make each page pop with fast-paced baseball action. Simple text keeps the story moving, and will be interesting to young readers; however, for the details about Blackwood's mud readers will have to go to the author's note. The book is an excellent way to engage young sports fans and could easily be used as a bridge for interdisciplinary activities. The story may inspire a few science fair projects as students test the various shine remedies for themselves. Students and educators can access additional resources on the publisher's website." --Library Media Connection


"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." --Booklist


"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 will be enjoyable to a larger audience than just baseball fans." --School Library Journal