This is one of my favorite childhood memories: My dad played on a softball team. As soon as the game was over, but before the bases were put away, all the players' kids would run the bases. And of course, when you would get to home plate, you would slide, raising a cloud of dirt.
Then you would get up, brush yourself off, and take another spin around the base path. By the time we got home, we were filthy. We'd have to take a bath, but it was worth it!
Baseball and dirt go together. Yet, in the big leagues today, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Today's diamonds no are no longer dirt. Instead, they are a mixture of clay, sand, and silt. By checking the cards over the years, it looks like the clay came into prominence during the 1990's. By the end of that decade, it was hard to find a dirty player on a card.
If you watch replays on MLB Network of older games, you see dirt flying. I remember games being held up as wind blew across the field and stirred up a dirt cloud. Players would slide and come up full of dirt. They would brush themselves off and more dirt would fly.
Today, they have red/orange clay stains instead.
I'm sure the drainage on the modern fields is much better, which means fewer postponed games (and fewer dollars lost). The bounces are probably truer, too.
But how can you play baseball and not get dirty?
Here is my tribute to dirt....getting dirty.....playing dirty.
Ultra 1990, Joe GIrardi in a cloud of dirt.
Ultra 1990, Gary Scott with a dirty shin
Ultra 1993, Tommy Shields covered in dirt from head to toe
Ultra 1997, even Sammy Sosa got dirty; look at the dirty flying off his back side.
Stadium Club 1991, turning two, with a cloud of dirt,
Pacific 1997, breaking up a double play, making a mess.
Score 1988, Moreland looks like I did after my post-softball game running of the bases!
Upper Deck 1990, looks like Webster made a head first dive.
Upper Deck 1990, that's what a catcher should look like, covered in dirt.
That's the dirt....on dirt.