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The Washington Senators used to bring their own dirt to play the Yankees at the Polo Grounds

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When the Washington Nationals travel to Citi Field for the start of their three-game series against the Mets, chances are emotions will be high. After all, the Mets passed the Nats to win the division last season, and the Nationals currently hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Metropolitans in the NL East. 

Despite the importance of the series, we doubt the Nats will pack their bags with their own dirt. Go back a century, though, and the Washington Senators would bring their own soil when playing the New York Yankees, who then played in the Polo Grounds. 

The Day Book wrote on May 16, 1916:

"They're finicky fellows, these Washington ballplayers. Whenever they visit the Polo Grounds in New York they lug along their own dirt from the capital-city for hand-drying purposes. They claim the soil in and around home plate in Gotham is "trick dirt," asserting that instead of drying the moisture on their hands it makes them slippery and the balls and bats harder to handle."

What would "trick dirt" even consist of -- itching powder, olive oil and food coloring? And why would the Yankees use it? It would likely harm them, too, unless they could bring new patches of dirt out every inning. 

Whatever the reason for the Senators' use of from-home dirt, it didn't seem to help much: The team went 7-15 against the Yankees that year, their worst record against any opponent, and were just 2-9 with one tie when in the Polo Grounds. 

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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