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A Baseball Without Its Cover?

I found this buried more than a foot deep on the side of my yard while digging a trench a few weeks ago. What is it? It came out of the ground a muddy, mushy, fibrous mass about the size of a baseball. After it dried, I cut it in half with a hacksaw, and found that the string-wrapped outside covers a solid core. It predates my wife moving to this house about 20 years ago, and it is likely at least as old as the house -- more than 50 years old.

 

If you have an idea of what this might be, please let me know.

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Taken on June 10, 2011