I was watching a YouTube collection of some "heated" plays (where people got ejected or the benches emptied) and quite a lot of them involved a batter hitting a home run, and the fielding team starting a fight over the batter staring too long at the ball in flight. The announcing teams made it obvious that "looking at" a home run was considered poor etiquette, but not really why.

The batter standing at home, or jogging slowly to first, doesn't seem to me to be interfering with any kind of play, nor does it seem to be particularly rude to admire a well-hit ball. (It's not like these batters were being overtly insulting or aggressive towards the pitcher.) If anything, the batter is doing himself a disservice if the ball ends up in play -- he's wasting time that could go towards extra bases.

Where did this element of baseball etiquette come from?

2 Answers 2


Watching the home run ball is considered poor sportsmanship.

For a pitcher, giving up a home run is the worst mistake you can make. And, right or wrong, many pitchers see it as an insult and get very angry when they have just given up a homer and the batter stops and stares at it. Sometimes they will be so angry that there will be retaliation against the batter, such as a hit-by-pitch on his next time up.

Fans, in general, don’t understand this. They like seeing celebrations in pro sports, whether it’s a touchdown dance or a slow victory lap after a home run. But the players often don’t feel the same way.

Fox Sports ran a column explaining the players’ thinking. (Unfortunately, I can’t figure out who the author is.):

What fans and some media fail to understand is that they don’t get to decide what is too much and what is not. They don’t get to decide what players should tolerate and what they shouldn’t. I don’t get to decide either. I played this game professionally 19 years but I don’t play anymore. The people that decide what is over the top, what is poor sportsmanship and what will receive retaliation are the 750 players on the field on any given day during the major-league season....

Just because you are not personally offended by a player’s actions and are entertained by his antics does not make it acceptable or right, and the opposing players should not be shamed for taking offense....

I personally never got offended by home run celebrations unless they were overly excessive, which did happen a few times. Like you, I’m now a fan, and celebrations don’t bother me at all. I laugh when it happens and I’m entertained when I see a pitcher get worked up about it.

Just because they entertain us though does not mean we should expect players who are on the receiving end of celebrations to just accept them. They certainly don’t deserve to be criticized when they don’t.

  • 1
    i guess this makes sense, though I disagree with the "we don't get to decide what they should tolerate" part. They're doing a job, and we're paying them to do it, we absolutely do get to decide what's allowed. They can be offended all they want, but if they're being paid lots of money to stand on the mound and be offended by a home run celebration, they should shut up and deal with it.
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 14, 2018 at 14:10
  • @KutuluMike I agree with you. If a pitcher gives up a homer, he’s got no one to blame but himself. Retaliation is never called for.
    – Ben Miller
    Apr 14, 2018 at 17:36
  • Well, no, you're not paying them to do it. Their team is. You pay to watch the game as a whole, if you even pay at all, and this is an entirely different thing from paying individual participants for or for not doing specific things. @KutuluMike
    – Nij
    Apr 15, 2018 at 2:32
  • @Nij I dunno if I buy that argument. When I pay companies to work on my lawn, or cook my food, or work on my car, I'm not paying the individuals that do it, but I absolutely expect those individuals to do the job the way I want. I'm paying the company to tell them to do the job the way I want.
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 21, 2018 at 22:25
  • 1
    In the case of those jobs, doing it the way the customer wants is often an explicit part of the service: the steak will be cooked medium if that's the way you want it, the grass will be cut to an inch above the trim if that's the way you want it, etc. But you don't have any such involvement in deciding the quality of the game or how it's played. If that's what you want, you can buy the team and instruct it to be run in such a way - as a number of people have done, fan associations included. @KutuluMike
    – Nij
    Apr 21, 2018 at 23:18

There are many factors and reasons that watching a homerun ball is considered bad etiquette.

One stems from the difference in the regular behavior vs. the behavior when a homerun is hit. Baseball players are taught from a young age to not watch the ball when they hit it, but to turn and run to first base. Turning your head and watching the play invariably slows you down, making it more likely you will be thrown out. Not watching the ball is a fundamental part of the game, for competitive reasons not etiquette reasons.

When a player hits a homerun, and watches it/ slowly leaves the batters box, he is departing from fundamental baseball. This ignorance of the correct fundamentals can be perceived as showboating.

Another factor to this is the batters knowledge of where the ball is going. When a batter hits the ball, he knows better than anyone how well he struck it. He sees the ball leave the bat, but also feels the contact. The pitcher, catcher, fans and umpire all have to rely on their eyes. Sometimes the pitcher knows right away, but most of the time he turns around in the hopes of an outfielder making the catch. If the batter knows its out, walking slow or watching it can inform the pitcher, aggravating the pitcher.

Lastly, the watching of a homerun being disrespectful is a catch 22 situation. The batters and pitchers know it is considered disrespectful, so when a batter does it he knows exactly what the pitchers response may be. People think it is disrespectful because hitters do it knowing that people think it is disrespectful.

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