Product developed by Mass.  startup could be game-changer for MLB

Product developed by Mass. startup could be game-changer for MLB

Greg Pope, a coatings engineer, and James Pidhurney, a chemical engineer, have teamed up to create a product that enhances grip. The idea started during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, when many public places, including gyms, were closed. Pope, who has a tennis court in his backyard, found himself hosting friends on a regular basis to play tennis. Partly in jest, he asked Pidhurney to come up with a concoction to improve the grip on his tennis racket as it became slippery with sweat. It worked so well that Pope distributed it to friends to try for other sports, such as golf and weightlifting. Pidhurney, meanwhile, brought it over to a neighborhood CrossFit gym and so began Chalkless, a startup based in Wilmington, Massachusetts. “We were just trying to solve something that was slippery,” Pope said. for fun and discovery. Then came the suggestion that changed everything. “One of our friends reached out to us and said: ‘Hey, they’re having problem in Major League Baseball right now with grip and cheating. Is there any way what you’re using on a leather grips can also be used on a leather ball?” Pidhurney said. So Pidhurney went back to his garage lab and started taking apart baseballs, studying the leather and the textures. He even just asked a couple of high school baseball players in his neighborhood to try throwing the balls without telling them why. Adam Wetherbee, a catcher at Bishop Guertin High School, remembered the day he and his pitcher tried a few Chalkless-treated balls for the first time. “I had my pitcher short-hop me a couple of times and the ball didn’t pick up any dirt or anything,” Wetherbee said. “I actually missed one and it was first thing in the morning, so the grass was real dewy. It rolled like 100 feet thru the grass and the ball was still dry.”The high school players loved it. That’s when the two engineers, who were simply trying to solve their tennis hobby problem, took their product to the next level and connected with Major League Baseball. the data set?” Pope said. “Why aren’t we using science to fix a problem that’s just random?”The random problem referenced by Pope being a baseball’s grip is always going to be different, depending on how the league-approved mud is applied and what climate it’s applied in.

Greg Pope, a coatings engineer, and James Pidhurney, a chemical engineer, have teamed up to create a product that enhances grip.

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

Pope, who has a tennis court in his backyard, found himself hosting friends on a regular basis to play tennis. Partly in jest, he asked Pidhurney to come up with 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 laboratory to come up with a solution. It worked so well that Pope distributed it to friends to try for other sports, such as golf and weightlifting. Pidhurney, meanwhile, brought it over to a neighborhood CrossFit gym and so began Chalkless, a startup based in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

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

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

“One of our friends reached out to us and said: ‘Hey, they’re having problem in Major League Baseball right now with grip and cheating. Is there any way what you’re using on a leather grips can also be used on a leather ball?” Pidhurney said.

So Pidhurney went back to his garage lab and started taking apart baseballs, studying the leather and the textures. He even just asked a couple of high school baseball players in his neighborhood to try throwing the balls without telling them why.

Adam Wetherbee, a catcher at Bishop Guertin High School, remembered the day he and his pitcher tried a few Chalkless-treated balls for the first time.

“I had my pitcher short-hop me a couple of times and the ball didn’t pick up any dirt or anything,” Wetherbee said. “I actually missed one and it was first thing in the morning, so the grass was real dewy . It rolled like 100 feet through the grass and the ball was still dry.”

The high school players loved it. That’s when the two engineers, who were simply trying to solve their tennis hobby problem, took their product to the next level and connected with Major League Baseball.

“Everything in baseball is all driven by data, so why isn’t the ball part of the data set?” Pope said. “Why aren’t we using science to fix a problem that’s just random?”

The random problem referenced by Pope being a baseball’s grip is always going to be different, depending on how the league-approved mud is applied and what climate it’s applied in.

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