Cameron Kruse With His Invention (Photo Intel.com)
That last inning of the All-Star baseball game last night should be the cover story for Nail-Biter Magazine!
I watched the whole game real intently though, because I had just learned an interesting bit of detail about baseball -- that the balls are rubbed with mud before they're put in play. Apparently, new baseballs are slick and slippery and can lead to the dropsies unless they are deglossed. Did every fan already know this?
Sixteen-year-old Cameron Kruse knew it. For five seasons, as head bat-boy for the Colorado Sky Sox, Kruse rubbed each new baseball with a special kind of mud before it hit the pitchers glove. But, this season Kruse is doing his job a little differently, with his own prized invention....
Kruse, a home-schooled math and engineering buff, noticed that once the balls were muddied, their colors are inconsistent... some turn out darker than others. He heard several complaints about that from batters and outfielders. You can see a ball better, after all, when it's closer to white than to brown in color, especially at night.
Still a junior in high-school, Kruse created a unique device to consistently color and degloss a baseball. Using parts from a variety of hobby kits and Legos®, a laser sensor, and a mini-computer to prototype it, Kruse invented a deglossing machine that certainly has the potential of bringing baseball into the 20th Century!
Yes, after almost 200 years of applying mud to baseballs by hand, some teams appear to be very interested in Kruse's mechanized deglosser. The Sky Sox are already using it for every game and even the Colorado Rockies have used it for a few games.
Though Legos may not be in the final plans for the market version of the device, Kruse has his prototype working well and he's won several prestigious awards for it too... among them, the Grand Prize at the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair paid him $1000 plus a free trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where Kruse won third place in the mechanical and electrical engineering area and the opportunity to intern at Agilent Technologies this summer!
This automated ball deglosser is a really neat invention. Let Cameron Kruse explain it to you in this video from Intel... Congratulations and the best to you Cameron!
Baseball Trivia Question: Who was Lena Blackburne?
Answer: Lena Blackburne was the 3rd base umpire for the Philadelphia Athletics who discovered a special mud from the Delaware River Basin that was perfect for muddying baseballs. Professional and semi-professional teams have been using Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud for 80 years!
Now, will someone please tell me why a rougher material can't be found to cover a baseball?
Rocky Mountain News.com
The Albuquerque Tribune
Cameron Kruse's Website