Lena Blackburne


Lena Blackburne

Russell Aubrey "Lena" Blackburne (October 23 1886February 29 1968) was an American infielder, manager, coach and scout in Major League Baseball.

Between by|1910 and by|1927, Blackburne played for the Chicago White Sox (1910, 1912, 1914-1915, 1927), Cincinnati Reds (1918), Boston Braves (1919) and Philadelphia Phillies (1919). He batted and threw right-handed. Following his playing career, Blackburne managed the White Sox (1928-29) and coached for the Philadelphia Athletics (1933-1954).

A native of Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania, Blackburne is best remembered for his eponymous rubbing mud, used by umpires on new baseballs to remove their slippery finish.

Blackburne broke into the majors with the White Sox in 1910, appearing in part of five seasons, and split the 1919 season with the Braves and Phillies. In an eight-season playing career, Blackburne was a .214 hitter with four home runs and 139 RBI in 550 games played. As a fielder, he appeared in 539 games at shortstop (213), third base (180) and second (144) and first (2), and also relieved in one game.

After playing, managing and coaching the White Sox from 1927-32, he went on to become a coach in 1933 with the Philadelphia Athletics of Connie Mack. Blackburne stayed with the Athletics as a scout when the club moved to Kansas City. As a manager in the major leagues, he posted a 99-133 record for a .427 winning percentage. He managed the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League for parts of three seasons: 1916, 1921, and 1932. In each case he was hired as a mid-season replacement.

Blackburne died in Riverside, New Jersey at age 81.

Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud

Blackburne made an unusual and valuable contribution to baseball when he discovered a special use for the clay from the Delaware River to take the shine off of baseballs before each game. At the time, the mid-1930s, baseball teams used a variety of substances to rub baseballs: tobacco juice, shoe polish, dirt from the baseball field or a combination, but nothing they tried gave the balls the right look or feel. Blackburne searched for the perfect rubbing compound until one day, according to legend, he found mud he liked in a secret body of water. He marketed his idea, and by 1938, he was supplying the mud to all American League teams; because Blackburne was a die-hard American League fan, he refused to sell the mud to National League teams until the mid-1950s. Since then, every major and minor league team has used only his product. One container, a little more than 16 ounces, will usually last a season. The process of creating the mud was featured in a pilot episode of the television show "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel.

ee also

* Chicago White Sox all-time roster

References

*baseball-reference|id=b/blackle01
* [http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=3642 Associated Press]
* [http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/B/Blackburne_Lena.stm Baseball Library]
* [http://www.thedeadballera.com/Obits/Blackburne.Lena.Obit.html The Deadball Era]
* [http://baseballrubbingmud.com/main.htm Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud]


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