When Mike Carmichel was twelve years old, he accidentally dropped a baseball in a bucket of paint. “Interesting,” he said to himself, and kept dipping it. Then he wrapped a wire around it to use as a handle and invited his friends to help. That was the beginning of this story. It continues when Mike helped his toddler son begin painting his own baseball. In 2006 Sherwin-Williams sponsored the ball and provided a building to house it. It hangs suspended from steel I-beams and occasionally gets a steel band reinforcement.
We came across an article about the ball a few months ago. Don’t just drop by, the article said, call and make an appointment. Not wanting to miss it, we did just that the day before we arrived. Mike and his wife Glenda were waiting for us. We pulled up in the drive, and as we got out, the lights in the building lit up the ball for us to see through the glass front doors. It was quite the reveal.
The ball hung there like a giant orange avocado, with the number 25,271 written on one side. We had a brief tour of the historical articles posted on the walls, saw the original ball of paint with its coat hanger hook, and were asked to select from several colors for the next coat of paint on the ball. “Teal looks good,” Patti said. “Now let’s get a before picture,” Mike said as he opened the teal paint bucket. Next thing we knew we had rollers in our hands. “You can use the mirror on the floor to make sure you get all the way underneath,” advised Glenda.
Twenty minutes later we’d finished our chore and the once orange 2 1/2 ton ball now looked like a slightly misshapen Earth, seen from space, and covered with clouds. As we painted, we heard about the list on the wall, naming the countries (about two dozen) from which our fellow ball-painters had hailed. We heard about the Oak Ridge Boy’s visit and the ball’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, and about the numerous periodicals that had featured this Guinness certified creation.
At least until the next group of visitors, or until tomorrow (Mike or his son paint the ball faithfully once a day even if no one shows up), we hold the record for the worlds largest ball of paint –coat number 25,721! We have certificates to prove it and signed our name on the wall along with all those who came before us! So head up IN route 9 northeast of Indianapolis towards the little town of Alexandria, and among the truck farms and housing developments, you’ll find this roadside wonder. It’s waiting for you to set your own record. Don’t look for us there, because we’ve already done that, but you might well find us, Patti and Tom Burkett, somewhere else off the beaten path.