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Cleveland Indians

Extra innings put strain on supply of baseballs

By Sheldon Ocker Published: April 9, 2012

CLEVELAND: The Indians were never in danger of running out of baseballs playing 16-and 12-inning marathons last week.

However, about 50 percent more balls were used in ther opener as usual.

"I think we went thorugh about 12 dozen balls in that (16-inning) game; usually it's about eight dozen,'' said Jack Efta, who takes care of the umpire's locker room and applies a thin coating of mud to take the sheen off the balls.

Years ago, the umpiring crew rubbed up each ball with mud from a tributary of the Delaware River in New Jersey. The same mud is used today, but the umpires keep their hands clean. 

Efta is the official mud rubber at Progressive Field. It takes him about 20 minutes to rub up one case of baseballs. Each box holds six dozen balls.

The mud is sold at a premium, $60 for small container, though Efta said he uses only two per season.

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