The Dirt Path Leading to Home Plate

The most common term appears to be “dirt path” or “dirt pathway”. The Arizona Diamondbacks refer to this “visible feature” at Bank One Ballpark as a “dirt path … reminiscent of the paths seen in very early pictures of the game”.

The most common term appears to be “dirt path” or “dirt pathway”. The Arizona Diamondbacks refer to this “visible feature” at Bank One Ballpark as a “dirt path … reminiscent of the paths seen in very early pictures of the game”. Robert Schaefer quoted from the Chicago Tribune (March 30, 1884): “Base paths [at the Chicago grounds] eight feet wide have been constructed with broken stone, cinders, and powdered stone so as to be perfectly smooth and hard, and the path from pitcher to back-stop has been similarly treated.” The Washington Post published a 1934 view of Yankee Stadium showing the “dirt pathway” to the mound.

The term “alley” has also been applied to this path. Peter Morris quoted from the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen (July 5, 1873): “The infield is sodded smooth and solid, with well packed hard alleys between the bases and on the pitching stretch.”

Schaefer referred to an article by Hugh Fullerton in The American Magazine in 1911 or 1912 in which Fullerton calls the path to the plate “the runway”.

John Pastier has heard the term “keyhole” used for these paths. Frank Chase (personal communication) said he used the term “channel” when he was playing baseball in the 1950s.

Contributed by Skip McAfee



Originally published: May 19, 2003. Last Updated: May 19, 2003.

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