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"Magic mud" used by every MLB team is harvested in south Jersey

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When pitchers across Major League Baseball take to the mound, they rely on a secret ingredient that comes from a fishing hole in southern New Jersey.

Video Transcript

- Opening day on our mind, we literally dug up this next story. When pitchers across the majors take to the mound tomorrow, and pretty much all the time, they rely on a secret ingredient, an unlikely one from right here in South Jersey.

- The special mud they put on the baseball is one of a kind and has quite the history behind it. Action News' Alicia Vitarelli here now with that remarkable story containing a big secret. And I'm thinking who knew, Alicia.

ALICIA VITARELLI: And I'll tell you another reason it's a secret, because only five people in the world actually know where the mud comes from-- a small tributary off the Delaware River in Burlington County, New Jersey. Lena Blackburne Baseball Mud is named for the Philadelphia athletics coach who back in the 1930s used mud from his favorite fishing hole to add grip to slippery new balls after a batter died.

So it's like magic mud?

JIM BINTLIFF: That's what Lena used to call it.

ALICIA VITARELLI: Yeah.

JIM BINTLIFF: Yeah. There's been a lot of people that have tried other muds, other dirts. Rawlings at one point tried to create a synthetic mud. That bombed. The area is just unique, and the minerals are unique to that area.

ALICIA VITARELLI: Talk about a natural treasure.

JIM BINTLIFF: Yes it is.

ALICIA VITARELLI: Which no one knows where it is.

JIM BINTLIFF: No one knows where it is.

ALICIA VITARELLI: Just Jim Bintliff and four other people. His grandfather was friends with Blackburne and took over the company in the 1960s. Jim says it's like making a fine wine with mud, buckets, trashcans, and a secret treatment.

JIM BINTLIFF: Bring the mud back to Longport, and I process it in my garage.

ALICIA VITARELLI: No way.

JIM BINTLIFF: Yes way.

ALICIA VITARELLI: So homegrown.

JIM BINTLIFF: Very homegrown. Probably the smallest small business that Major League Baseball has ever dealt with.

ALICIA VITARELLI: Yeah and get this, every major and minor league team uses his mud, along with almost all of the NFL as well, including the Eagles. I asked. Lena Blackburne Baseball Mud is so vital to the sport it's also on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. From a secret little fishing hole in New Jersey.

- I know. I can imagine everyone's going to be running to South Jersey to find this special spot.

- Keep an eye out for this now.

- What a cool story. I love that. Alicia, very cool. Thank you.