The product developed by Mass. startup Rules of the game for MLB

Greg Pope, coating engineer, and James Bedorney, chemical engineer, collaborated to create a product that enhances consistency. The idea started during the pandemic lockdown of COVID-19, when many public places, including gyms, were closed, the Pope, who owns a tennis court in his backyard, found himself regularly hosting friends to play tennis. In jest, he asked Pedorni to devise a concoction to improve the grip of his tennis racket because it had become slippery with sweat, and Pedorni, a scientist and engineer, used his laboratory in his garage to come up with a solution. It worked so well that Bob distributed it to friends to try other sports, like golf and weightlifting. In the meantime, he brought Pedorne to a neighborhood gym, and that’s how she started Challees, a startup based in Wilmington, Massachusetts. “We were just trying to solve something that was slippery,” Bob said. Just for fun and discovery. Then came the proposal that changed everything. “One of our friends reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, they’re having trouble in Major League Baseball right now with fists and cheating. Is there any way what you use on leather handles can also be used on a leather ball? So Bidurney went back to his garage lab and started taking apart baseballs, studying skin and tissue. He even asked two high school baseball players in his neighborhood to try to throw balls without telling them why. Adam Wetherby remembered, A hunter at Bishop Gorten High School, the day he and his bowler tried some tackle balls without chalk. The first time. “I had my short jump throw a few times, and the ball didn’t pick up any dirt or anything,” Wetherbee said. For real. It rolled 100 feet across the grass, and the ball was still dry.” High school players loved it. That’s when the two engineers, who were simply trying to solve their hobby of tennis, took their product to the next level and connected them to Major League Baseball. “Everything in baseball is driven by data, so why isn’t the ball part of the data set? It applies and what climate is it applied in. Every week, club staff at the MLB and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams prepare baseballs for each game about “We go through about 12 to 15 dozen baseballs per game.” “It probably takes about half an hour to 45 minutes to rub baseballs into (each) game.” Although club staffers are pretty good at their craft, creating consistency with the mud It can be challenging. For example, the way you put clay on a ball in hot and humid conditions is different from the way you put it in a cold, dry environment. “If you’re trying to do a your job with the precision that shooters are trying to do their jobs, they need a kiss Consistent grip.” After introducing it with the Chalkless grip enhancer, Duquette brought the product to the MLB, then put the Chalkless-cured baseballs through a pilot testing program. Chalk-treated balls were sampled in Worcester last year, which was followed by more testing in the Arizona Fall League and Team Double-A. Feedback from major league players and MLB to see if a new grip enhancer will replace a long-standing tradition.

Greg Pope, coating engineer, and James Bedorney, chemical engineer, collaborated to create a product that enhances consistency.

The idea started during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when many public places, including gyms, were closed.

Bob, who has a tennis court in his backyard, found himself regularly hosting friends to play tennis. In jest, he asked Pidhurney to devise a concoction to improve the grip on his tennis racket as it became slippery with sweat.

Pidhurney, a scientist and engineer by trade, used his home garage lab to come up with a solution. It worked so well that Bob distributed it to friends to try other sports, like golf and weightlifting. In the meantime, he brought Pedorne to a neighborhood gym, and that’s how she started Challees, a startup based in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

“We were just trying to solve something that was slippery,” Bob said.

Up until this point, the project was simply for fun and discovery. Then came the proposal that changed everything.

“One of our friends reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, they’re having trouble in Major League Baseball right now with fists and cheating. Is there any way what you use on leather handles can also be used on a leather ball? ‘ Bidorni said.

So Pidhurney returned to his garage lab and began dismantling baseballs, studying skin and tissue. He even asked two high school baseball players in his neighborhood to try to throw balls without telling them why.

Adam Wetherby, a fisherman at Bishop Guerten High School, remembers the day he and his archer tried some tackle balls without chalk for the first time.

Wetherbee said: “I had my short jump throw a few times, and the ball didn’t pick up any dirt or anything. I really missed one, and it was first thing in the morning, so the grass was real dew. I rolled 100 feet through the grass, and the ball was still dry “.

High school players loved it. That’s when the two engineers, who were simply trying to solve their hobby of tennis, took their product to the next level and hooked up with Major League Baseball.

“Everything in baseball is driven by data, so why not the ball part of the data set?” Bob said. “Why not use science to fix just a random problem?”

The random problem Bob is referring to being a baseball grip will always be different, depending on how the league-approved clay is applied and the climate in which it is applied.

Each week, club staff on the MLB and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams prepare baseballs for each game by muddying them. They carefully prepare each ball by hand and use very specific New Jersey clay. This process, which has been in use for decades, creates traction and stability on baseballs.

“We pass about 12 to 15 dozen baseballs per game,” said Mario Oliveira, club manager for the Worcester Red Sox. “It probably takes about half an hour to 45 minutes to massage baseballs into (every) game.”

Although club workers are adept at their craft, creating consistency with clay can be a challenge. For example, the way clay is placed on a ball and in hot and humid conditions is different from the way it is placed in a cool, dry environment.

“A common complaint from shooters is that they are variable,” said Dan Duckett, former general manager of the Boston Red Sox (1994-2001). “If you are trying to do your job as accurately as shooters are trying to do their job, they need a firm grip.”

After introducing it with the Chalkless grip enhancer, Duquette brought the product to MLB, who then put the Chalkless-treated foundation balls through a beta testing program. Treated balls without chalk were sampled in Worcester last year, which was followed by more testing in the Arizona Fall League and Double-A teams.

Bob and Bedorny said that feedback has been positive so far, but they are still waiting for final feedback from major league players and the MLB to see if the new grip enhancer will replace a longstanding tradition.

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