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Meet the man behind rubbing 'magic mud' on Royals baseballs

Posted: 5:57 AM, Apr 18, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-18 10:09:34-04
The man behind rubbing 'magic mud' on Royals baseballs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A tradition as old as the Kansas City Royals themselves thrives quietly behind the scenes.

Meet Thomas "T-Man" Walsh, the unsung hero responsible for ensuring that each baseball is game day ready.

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“Day games are a little hectic," Walsh said. "If we have a day game that day, during the week, it's pretty hectic."

Walsh has been a part of the team since 1984, where he started off doing maintenance work for the Royals.

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Thomas Walsh

"I was here before the players and I got here, so I was mainly vacuuming and taking out the trash and that. So I got to experience the 1985 World Series," he said.

Fast forward 14 years, Walsh found himself in a new role, an integral role. Since 1998, Walsh has been in charge of mud-bathing baseballs in accordance to Major League Baseball rules.

“I usually do 16 or 17 dozen per game and averages out to over about 16,000 for the season," Walsh said.

The ritual of mud bathing baseballs dates back to the 1930s in the belief that treating the balls with a fine layer of special mud enhances grip and control for pitchers, which has now become an important part of the game.

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“So the process is, I get the balls rubbed down in it [mud], then they hire a person locally from MLB, and he comes and inspects the balls," Walsh said. "So he goes through every ball, the ones he doesn't like he puts aside."

On game days, Walsh in mud bathing nearly 204 baseballs, a task that has become second nature.

“The main thing with rubbing balls during the game is make sure you have enough. That's my motto," Walsh said.

At the end of the day, Tom is packing up and prepared to do it all over again.

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