BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s a tradition that dates back to 1938.

For more than 80 years, baseball teams have been coating each ball in Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud. And there’s a good reason for it.

Tuesday morning on Wake Up, Buffalo Bisons Assistant General Manager Brad Bisbing explained the history and purpose behind it all.

“Every baseball for almost 100 years in Major League or Minor League Baseball is rubbed with mud before it’s used in a game,” Bisbing said. “The story goes that pitchers were always putting random stuff [on the ball], trying to get a better grip on the ball — chewing tobacco, infield dirt — until Lena Blackburne, who was a third-base coach for the Philadelphia A’s, found this mud on the Delaware River. Only the Lena Blackburne Company knows where this mud is. They go once every year, collect all the mud they need for the season, ship it off to teams. And this is the official rubbing mud. Every baseball is rubbed with this.”

Bisbing said the Bisons rub about 100 baseballs for every game. They have 75 home games.

“We go through a lot of baseballs,” he said.

The Bisons open the season at 1 p.m. vs. Iowa.

Buffalo Bisons

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.