Reader Gary emails:
…do you happen to know when the practice of lining up to congratulate the other team was eliminated from major league baseball? I’d like to write an article about this and have searched the internet to no avail. I know this used to be the practice in MLB as it still is, say, in Little League and in the softball league that I currently coach and play in. Any ideas on how I might find out when and why it stopped?
That’s an interesting question. I assured Gary that at least in the Big Ten, the practice is still intact. After a game, the Illini will congratulate each other then will line up and trade the glad hand with the opposing team.
Illinois and MSU shake on it
But it certainly doesn’t happen in the MLB.
In a second email, Gary forwarded a link to a Boston Globe article from 2005 about a group of fifth and sixth graders who petitioned the Yankees and Red Sox to shake hands before their game. One thing about this group of kids… they set their sights high.
”The Merriam School Handshake Project” was launched last fall, after the Red Sox rallied from three games behind to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Tensions between the school’s opposing Sox and Yankees fans boiled over in the schoolyard and in the classroom. ”Kids were intimidated; they were afraid to wear their Yankees hats,” said Ed Kaufman, a fifth-grade teacher and Yankees fan who helped to organize the campaign. ”Things were just crossing the line from respectful and fun.”
So after school assemblies addressing sportsmanship, students put together the PowerPoint show and mailed and e-mailed it with letters urging team owners, managers, and captains to support the Opening Day shake.
Kids try to get the Yanks and Bosox to shake (Globe Staff Photo / Joanne Rathe)
George Steinbrenner was behind the idea. Terry Francona liked the idea but wouldn’t force his players to do it.
Depending on how you read it, some say MLB Rule 3.09 is a rule which prohibits handshakes between opposing teams. Rule 3.09 states:
Players in uniform shall not address or mingle with spectators, nor sit in the stands before, during, or after a game. No manager, coach or player shall address any spectator before or during a game. Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.
In my opinion, that doesn’t hold water. During a game, I see many baserunners talking to fielders (even in a friendly way).
My feeling? Some players are fiercely competitive and I don’t see them participating in anything like this. But I honestly think the post-game congratulatory handshake wouldn’t kill anyone.