Professional Sports Question

After the games, and sometimes even before, pro football and basketball games you see the opposing players speaking to one another. Why not baseball? Not only do they not get together, there’s a player aloofness that is unique to the sport.

Of course, you often see a man on base chatting with his opponent on defense, a player friendliness that’s also unique to the sport.

As of 2004 (and perhaps still), there is/was a non-fraternization rule in baseball. But according to that link, it’s not enforced.

I think it’s mostly tradition in baseball.

Yeah, it’s still there. Rule 3.09:

I believe it stems from the major gambling problems the game had in it’s early decades.

How does prohibiting fraternization only while in uniform prevent gambling?

In baseball, you exit the dugout and go straight down the tunnel. It just so happens that this makes it easier to maintain the traditional post-game behavior of not chatting it up with the other team.

In ice hockey, you ignore the other team after a game, no matter how you leave the bench/ice. Only after the final game of a playoff series do you proceed with a formalized handshake procession.

Don’t underestimate the power of ‘that’s the way we always did it’. If you underestimate the power of that, you won’t be happy with many answers.


I believe the key was actually the first part of the rule - talking to folks in the stands before, during, or after the game. At least according to Ken Burns’s documentary series in “the good old days” (read: before 1919) it was not unusual for touts in the stands to make wagers on individual plays and attempt to affect the play by conversing with the players. They had a quote from someone saying that on a high fly ball someone in the stands would offer to pay the outfielder to drop it, only to be out-bid by another fan paying for him to catch it. The sport was rife with gambling, and fixing games was extremely common. The Black Sox scandal was only a major scandal because it was the World Series.

After 1919 it became very important to eliminate the appearance of gambling, at the least. That’s part of why Landis banned the 8 Black Sox players even after a court had acquitted them. I’d imagine that banning fraternization while in uniform was part of the push to make it appear like the game had been cleaned up.

I’ve been trying to find something about the provenance of Rule 3.09 but haven’t been able to yet, so this is primarily conjecture.

In baseball, your normally going to see your opponent the next day because games are played in series, as opposed to basketball (except in the playoffs) and football.

Jas09 is right that the rule was to prevent players colluding to fix games. And evidently it does happen enough that Joe Torre got all worked up about it.

Craig Calcaterra had a little item about it last week.

Slightly off topic, but I always had the impression that the more physical the game is, the more they interact with each others afterwards. In baseball they never touch each other, never measure their strength chest to chest, so to speak. In table tennis and such sports they more or less ignore one another after the game, the handshake is often reluctant and almost demonstratively indifferent.

On the other hand, in American pro football, after the game there is a mutual respect, hugging and a player in the losing team in the play off wish the opponent luck, and so forth. And in boxing, when they’ve spent the evening trying to beat each other down, often there seem to be almost a brotherly love afterwards.

So, the more physical the game is, the more you are putting on the line while meeting each other, the more mutual love and respect you feel afterwards. It’s a primitive male bonding thing. (Do I need a smiley here?)

In baseball, the opponent is a bloke twenty yards away trying to catch a ball. – What do I care?

Most baserunners and infielders, especially 1Bs, will readily speak to members of the opposing team during games. Sometimes you’ll see them jawing away at each other right up until the pitcher goes to set position.

Some catchers speak to batters. (All catchers chat with umpires.)

In football and basketball players are more likely to know one another. If you went to a big football school you most likely have teammates that now play on another team. The only time you have to talk to that person face to face is after the game and before you get on the team plane to fly back home. Similarly in basketball most of the players know each other from AAU or basketball campls growing up. They almost never spend more than two days in the same city. Most baseball teams play the same opponent 3 or four days in a row, so if you want to see a friend from another team you can go out for dinner or see them the next day. They can also talk during the game.

While I agree that these conversations happen, they are expressly against the rules as state above. I do believe, just based on what I’ve heard from retired players, that there is significantly more on-field fraternization now than in the past.

So I’d say the gambling problems necessitated the rules, which created a culture in which you didn’t talk to the other team. Now, with the gambling fears pretty much a distant memory, increased fraternization is happening during the games. However, little to none happens before or after the game because (a) it is more obviously against the rules to go out of your way to talk to the opponent and (b) a combination of the social factors mentioned up-thread (schedule, familiarity, physicality, etc).

The fact is that it is and has been for a long time a tradition in baseball that there be no chit chat, friendly or otherwise, between members of opposing teams prior to a game. Listen to any of the old-timers calling baseball games and you’ll hear some reference to how offended they are by all the friendly conversation that occurs. “Of course, times have changed now. Back in my time, you’d never…”
One reason for greater fraternization might be the fact that so many players are now college-trained, so they have played against kids from all over. Many times, perhaps. They know each other when they get to the minor leagues.
And money. Money is somehow at the root of many of the changes in professional sports. No citation. My own belief.

[quote=“CC, post:15, topic:582096”]

One reason for greater fraternization might be the fact that so many players are now college-trained. . ./QUOTE]

The increased power of the players’ union and free agency probably have something to do with it, also. Players who have been in the majors for six seasons or more now have some control over which teams they will play for, so they might be less inclined to feel loyalty to their current teams and more inclined to feel kinship with players on other teams.

as a second question, thinking of that kevin kostner movie on baseball (love of the game?) do some teams really enjoin their players to dress formally in suits outside the stadium?

Moving to the Game Room from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

That’s definitely how they dress to travel. I have no clue how they dress for the rest of their off duty time on the road.

Note there is nothing in the MLB Official Rules (AFAIK) to prohibit inter-team contact when off the field. There might be such a custom or a provision in somebody’s contract, but (AFAIK) there’s nothing formal to prohibit players from opposing teams getting together for dinner or a round of golf.

Certainly the days of players spending a whole career with one team are over. When I watch my Cardinals play any other NL team, it’s seems rare to see an opposing line-up without a former Card in it somewhere. As such, it wouldn’t surprise me to find that some off-field fraternization is normal now.