The Odd Connection Between Pickle Brine And The New York Mets

Given that pickle brine is essentially vinegar, water, and sugar, it has plenty of other uses beyond the obvious one of pickling cucumbers. Some people add a splash of it to fried chicken batter, others even mix it into cocktails for an extra kick of flavor. Outside of cooking, however, pickle brine isn't so versatile. But that wasn't always true — at least for the New York Mets.

Back in 1968, The New York Times revealed that it was the baseball team's secret weapon, describing it as "Mets pitching juice." You might assume that this would involve players consuming pickle brine, but the trainer at the time, Gus Mauch, shared that pitchers would actually use it to soak their hands ahead of games. Mauch explained to the outlet that the natural remedy came about after years of coaching baseball and football, when he discovered that pickle brine toughened skin and prevented blisters. 

"When [Mets pitcher] Nolan Ryan kept getting blisters on his finger, I decided to stop fooling around and get the best," Mauch told the outlet. "I went to a supermarket in my neighborhood, got a quart for 10 cents, and now Ryan and Jerry Koosman have their own little bottles of brine."

Pickle brine didn't catch on when the Mets got a new trainer

Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan eventually went on to earn a spot in the baseball hall of fame, and it could very well be thanks to all the pickle juice he used over the years. It even earned him the nickname "Pickle Brine Ryan," Flashback Dallas reports.

Years later, Ryan shared with Newsday that he used pickle brine on his hands religiously throughout his entire career. But the remedy didn't stand the test of time with other players. When Gus Mauch retired and Tom McKenna took over, the new trainer instead recommended trimming blisters with a surgical scalpel.

Another new blister remedy was employed in 2017, Newsday reported, when pitcher Noah Syndergaard started to noticeably suffer from blisters. This prompted Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to share with the media, "Super Glue is 2017 protocol. There is stuff that you can do to help heal the blister." Pickle brine may have had a good run in Nolan Ryan's time, but as it turns out, the Mets found it as one worth retiring.