When it comes to rubbing mud on hundreds of College World Series baseballs, only one thing can be said.
It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
That task was being handled in a small room at Charles Schwab Field on Thursday, one day before the start of the CWS. The process was being overseen by the NCAA's Chad Tolliver, who has worked at the Series since 2003.
"It needs to be done before every Series," he said. "We have some good people who know what they're doing."
That "magic mud" is used to treat baseballs to give pitchers better control and a firmer grip. And it's a responsibility that's not taken lightly.
Rubbing up the first batch of 30 dozen baseballs Thursday were UNO softball players Alexa Sedlak and Lexi Burkhardt — a couple of five-year mud veterans — and UNO student Ryan Raabe. Two other stadium employees also were volunteered — "voluntold," as Tolliver put it — to help.
The workers dipped a little mud on their fingers, worked in a little water and then massaged each baseball for about a minute before moving on.
Tolliver said it looks like a simple process, but umpires know immediately if something isn't right.
The CWS baseball mud crew Thursday included (from left) Ryan Raabe, Alexa Sedlak and Lexi Burkhardt.
"They'll throw the ball out of play if there's too much mud or not enough," he said. "They know right away if there's a problem."
The legend of the mud goes back to the 1930s. Before that, other substances far worse than mud — tobacco juice, anyone? — were used on new baseballs.
That changed in 1938 when Lena Blackburne, a third-base coach for the Philadelphia Athletics, sought another alternative. He found just the right kind of mud on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.
By the 1950s, every major-league team was using it.
Blackburne died in 1968 but the mud lives on. The company remains, and the exact location of the mud is still a secret.
A small canister of the stuff sat near the workers Thursday, and a little bit goes a long way. Tolliver said it's the same jar that was first used in 2011, and there's enough left for many more CWS seasons.
That's good, because the mudders still have a long way to go. Tolliver said the NCAA orders 175 dozen baseballs — that's 2,100 — for the series.
"We obviously can't run out," he said. "On the average we have about 30 dozen left over, and we either give them away as souvenirs or donate them to local charities."
During the 90-minute rubdown, a few curious Texas A&M players poked their heads in the doorway. They seemed to be impressed and then went on their way.
"I'm not sure how many people know about this," Tolliver said. "It's all part of making sure everything is ready for the CWS."
The College World Series through the years
Mississippi State players dog pile after defeating Vanderbilt 9-0 to win the College World Series in 2021.
In 2018, the Oregon State Beavers found themselves in six elimination games in Omaha, but still battled their way to the program's third College World Series title. Rain affected five days of action, including postponing Game 1 of the championship series.
With two outs and a two-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 2, Arkansas misplayed a pop fly that would have won the program's first College World Series.
Lightning strikes on Friday outside TD Ameritrade Park. The 2017 College World Series opening ceremony was cancelled because of severe weather.
Catcher Mike Rivera celebrates Florida's first national title after the Gators swept LSU 2-0 in the 2017 championship series.
Coastal Carolina's G.K. Young, left, celebrates with teammates after winning the College World Series on
June 30, 2016.
Grounds crew members use a stencil to spell out "PIV" in honor of World-Herald staff writer Steve Pivovar.
With a giant American flag unfurled in center field, fans stand for the singing of the National Anthem before Arkansas plays Virginia in the first game of the 2015 College World Series.
Fans and stadium workers watch the storm move in over the downtown skyline on June 20, 2014.
South Carolina's Nolan Belcher does a back flip while pumping up his team before their game against Florida on June 16, 2012.
Lambert Barteck played the organ for the final year at Rosenblatt
in 2010, but did not make the move to TD Ameritrade Park.
The fireworks show explodes above the stadium after the opening ceremonies of the College World Series on June 18, 2010.
Barry Bonds may not have been the highest vote-getter, but he earned the loudest applause when the College World Series Legends Team was introduced at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 18, 2010.
Florida's Gavin Dickey looks up as fans beg for a ball during their game against Arizona State at Rosenblatt Stadium. Florida won 6-3.
Texas right fielder Nick Peoples makes a leaping catch at the wall in the eighth inning against Tulane on June 20, 2005.
Tulane's Brian Bogusevic makes a diving catch in the outfield as Nathan Southard celebrates in the sixth inning.
Matt Welch of North Platte, Nebraska goes wild high-fiving everyone he can reach in his section after the bases-loaded hit in the sixth inning that produced two runs for the Huskers on opening day of the 2005 College World Series.
Rose Hurst, 82, works seasonally at Zestos in South Omaha. "I am a jack-of-all-trades here," she said. "But I am a master of none of them." She was photographed on Friday, June 13, 2003.
Texas players mob Eric Sultemeier after he doubled and scored on a throwing error by the left fielder in the fourth inning.
Mike Neibaum, in visor, and Joel Clark, right, high five as the Huskers narrowly escape a double play in the seventh inning as the Huskers took on Clemson on June 14, 2002.
Clemson's Michael Johnson slides into home safe as Georgia Tech catcher Tyler Parker tries to tag on June 16, 2002.
Cal State Fullerton dogpiles after winning the
1995 CWS title against USC.
LSU holds up the trophy after winning
the 1993 CWS title. The Tigers defeated Wichita State 8-0 in the championship game.
Rosenblatt Stadium was packed for the Long Beach State-Clemson game. Later, Creighton and Wichita
drew a record 18,206. Photo published June 4, 1991.
Cal State Fullerton pitcher Ted Silva throws to Greg Walbridge in the fourth inning.
Guess who? It's the CWS mascot, the Maniac, clowning with LSU catcher Gary Hymel. Photo published June 1, 1991.
The hug of champions. Georgia pitcher Joe Kelly, right, wraps his arms around outfielder Ray Suplee during the postgame celebration. Photo published June 10, 1990.
Wichita State base runner Joey Wilson ends up beneath Florida State second baseman Rocky Rau after breaking up an attempted double play by the Seminoles in the third inning. Photo published June 5, 1989.
Wichita State's Mike Jones beats the tag of Texas pitcher Brian Dare in the second inning.
Arizona State pitcher Rusty Kilgo shows the umpire the ball after tagging out Florida's Mike Moberg, who was trying to score on a wild pitch. Photo published June 8, 1988.
A cloud of dust can't obscure the fact that Cal State Fullerton center fielder Bobby Jones is out trying to stretch a double into a triple. Miami third baseman Rob Wood displays the ball after making the tag. Photo published June 5, 1988.
Stanford celebrates winning its first CWS title
in 1987. The Cardinal's best finish previously was third in 1967.
Lightning strikes behind Oklahoma state players Tony Kounas, left, and Rocky Ward as they check out weather conditions during a rain delay. Photo published June 2, 1987.
Stanford's Toi Cook, No. 27, is safe at the plate in the third inning as Texas pitcher Curt Krippner is not in time to take the throw from catcher Brian Johnson. Photo published June 3, 1987.
Mississippi State center fielder Dan Van Cleve leaps in vain for the ball.
Miami's Greg Ellena, wearing batting helmet on the right, is mobbed by teammates after a game-winning homer that eliminated Mississippi State. Photo published June 9, 1985.
Umpire Randy Christal works the Maine-Arizona game with the television camera on top of his mask. ESPN hoped to use the camera in other series games. Photo published June 1, 1986.
Fullerton pitcher Todd Simmons, dark jersey top, and Texas' David Denny are tangled up in this fourth-inning collision. Photo published June 5, 1984.
A hero's welcome. Michigan players mob Casey Close, left, after his grand-slam homer put the Wolverines ahead 10-4 in a seven-run ninth inning. Photo published June 9, 1983.
South Carolina second baseman Tom Williams leaps over Arizona State's Alvin Davis as he throws to first to complete a double play in the seventh inning. Photo published June 7, 1981.
Arizona State claimed its fifth CWS championship by defeating Oklahoma State 7-4
in 1981. Shown are outfielder Ricky Nelson and pitcher Jeff Ahern.
Record-setting crowd of 15,276 overflows the third base line at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 7, 1980.
A desperate slide came up short. Oral Roberts' Audie Culbert is forced out at the plate by North Carolina catcher Lloyd Brewer as umpire Dale Williams looks on in 1978.
It's a double play! Ken Phelps of ASU upended Russ Quetti after an errant throw to first base. This photo was published June 17, 1976.
Caught in a rundown. Arizona's Al Lopez threw to Glen Wendt, who tagged out Clemson's Robert Bonnette between first and second base in 1976.
Sliding Tom Kober of Seton Hall was forced out at second base in the fourth inning, but forced Longhorn Blair Stouffer's late relay to first base in 1975.
Catcher Wayne Mears of Florida State grimaced in pain as Seton Hall's Mike O'Connor scored under the eye of umpire Sonny Nole during a second-inning collision in 1975.
Reggie Tredway jumped, steadied himself on the grandstand railing and made the catch. Harvard rivals look on in grudging admiration in 1971.
Out at the plate! Souther California's Frank Alfano tried to stretch a triple into a home run, but was tagged out by Tulsa catcher Mike Pemberton. The umpire pictured is Don Gust in a photo published June 16, 1971.
Umpire Bill Stewart listened patiently as Tulsa coach Gene Shell argued in vain on "out" call in 1971.
Here's a shot of the 1970 College World Series crowd.