Last week, Redditor /u/2Fillter22 posted a photo on the Blue Jays subreddit with the caption, “At the Jays game tonight. No words.” It was the cost of authenticated game-used dirt for sale at the Rogers Centre for the low, low price of $29.99.
Being the ever-weird collector of bizarre Blue Jays paraphernalia that I am, I had to have it. I recalled seeing Rogers Centre game-used dirt on sale last year; it was dirt collected from the very first Blue Jays home game which featured a real dirt infield. That particular bottle was auctioned off and sold for $1.
So, I went to the Rogers Centre last weekend and sought out this magical bottle of dirt. I purchased it, brought it home and wanted to share what spending $30 for game-used dirt gets you.
Firstly, if you think about it, this practice in itself is completely out of whack. People pay to clean dirt out of their clothes. People pay others to haul dirt away from their house. This is a substance most people want to get out of their life, and here was I – spending hard-earned money – acquiring it.
After the initial regret of the purchase and the embarrassment of explaining to my better half what I just brought into our home, I was fascinated to see what I had gotten myself into. What did the dirt look like up close? What did it feel like? Would I find fragments of Troy Tulowitzki’s bone spurs in there? I was ready to open up this glass container and wade into the wild world of game-issued dirt.
My first impression; it’s not really “dirt” at all. Dirt is a misnomer here; what you’re looking at here is actually very small reddish-brown gravel. After a little research, I learned this gravel is something called “Turface SlideMaster”. This is the layer of topdressing made out of fine gravel that goes on top of the infield dirt.
This topdressing serves several purposes; the reddish tinge not only enhances the aesthetic look of the infield, but its dark tone helps infielders track movement on ground balls and it gives a truer and more predictable bounce. Here’s what the tiny pieces of travel look like up close.
Now that you know all the dirt on the Blue Jays’ infield dirt, it turns out this is a pretty big business for teams. I couldn’t be the only sucker who agreed to pay money for something readily available anywhere. Visit the MLB shop and search “dirt” and you’ll see all kinds of obscure memorabilia embedded with infield dirt from other teams.
You can get a crystal baseball filled with game-used dirt from Shohei Ohtani’s first MLB start as a pitcher. There’s a ball with infield dirt from James Paxton’s no-hitter from earlier this season at the Rogers Centre. Even the Giants are selling watches with faces that have game-used dirt inside them.
When it comes to the Blue Jays, they’re carving out a niche for game-used memorabilia putting dirt into pens like this:
Or, if you’re in the market for the BMW of Blue Jays game-used dirt, you can buy a framed 15 x 17 photo with game-used dirt from the 2016 American League Wild Card game.
If you don’t feel like paying the $160 price tag, why not go with something a little more subtle, like this keychain with game-used dirt from the Rogers Centre. This could be yours for only $15.99 USD plus shipping.
This is real, genuine infield dirt, as stated by the item description. “An MLB representative supervised the addition of a numbered hologram confirming the dirt was retrieved from the Toronto Blue Jays infield.” This isn’t just some intern who oversaw this project, a Major League Baseball representative was there to witness someone else put a sticker of authenticity on the back of this keychain.
If someone asked, “was it really worth spending the same amount on two tallboys as a bottle of literal dirt”, I’d say “give me two Goose Islands instead”.
This was similar to most encounters I have with Blue Jays memorabilia; in the moment, it’s like being the T-1000 and nothing will stop you from completing this mission to acquire an obscure and unnecessary Blue Jays knickknack. But once it’s in my hands, the chase is over, the magic is gone and the thrill of the hunt often isn’t as exciting as the conclusion.
In the end, I guess it’s cool to own a piece of history … even if it is a microscopic one.