Douglas Jerolmack is working with other Penn researchers to understand the mechanics behind baseball's "magic mud"


With the Phillies’ World Series hopes dashed by the Arizona Diamondbacks, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are diverting their gaze to a lesser-known player in the baseball saga: the “magic mud.”

This mysterious mire, harvested from a secret locale along the Delaware River, has long been an unsung companion of Major League Baseball (MLB) players. The mud has been sourced by one family safeguarding its location for nearly 90 years and is a goopy, grayish-brown substance that has the curious property of “spreading like cream, and gripping like sandpaper,” according to Douglas Jerolmack, a professor of earth and environmental science at Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and mechanical engineering and applied mechanics (MEAM) at Penn Engineering  who is leading the investigative charge.

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