Why You Should Never Draw a Line in Baseball


Baseball Draw Line With Bat

One of the rare events you’ll see in baseball is when a player draws a line. So when a player draws a line, it’s an event that quickly gathers interest from everyone. Because it is rare to see a player draw a line in baseball, it’s common for a lot of people to wonder what does drawing a line mean in baseball.

Drawing a line in baseball means a batter made a line in the dirt with their bat to show where they believe the pitch crossed home plate. Drawing a line generally happens after a batter has struck out and it is considered arguing with the umpire on a called strike, which is grounds for ejection.

A lot of batters disagree with the calls an umpire makes, but it’s not common for batters to draw a line in the dirt when they disagree. Let’s look at why baseball players draw lines, even though they know they risk being ejected from the game.

The Meaning of Drawing a Line in Baseball

When you hear of someone drawing a line there are many ways to interpret the meaning, but when it can be more difficult to understand is when someone is talking about drawing a line in baseball.

Drawing a line in baseball is not something that you see every game so it’s easy to wonder what drawing a line in baseball means.

In general, drawing a line in baseball is when a player draws a line in the dirt, with either end of their bat, to argue a strike from the umpire. The player draws a line in the dirt around home plate to show where they thought the ball crossed the plate.

Batters will draw a line in the dirt when they are upset with the strike call from the umpire, but what makes this move controversial is that most batters will get ejected after drawing a line in the dirt with their bat.

What Happens if You Draw a Line in Baseball?

Most batters get ejected from the game after drawing a line with their bat. Sometimes batters are unaware they will be ejected from drawing a line while others know they could get ejected, but decide to draw the line anyways. 

If you talk to enough coaches, you’ll also hear stories of players who draw a line and don’t get ejected. Because there are stories of players getting ejected and not getting ejected for drawing a line, this leads a lot of people to wonder if drawing a line in baseball is illegal?

In baseball, the act of drawing a line is not illegal, but drawing a line to argue a strike can lead to a player being ejected from the game. In general, arguing balls and strikes is not allowed and any form of arguing a strike can result in an ejection.

Drawing a line is not specified anywhere in the MLB rule book so it’s not exactly illegal, but what is outlined in the rule book is that players are not allowed to argue balls and strikes. Even though drawing a line is not directly illegal, it is indirectly illegal because it’s both a way to argue a strike and considered unsportsmanlike conduct.

Most baseball fans would also consider drawing a line to argue a strike as a way to “show up” an umpire. Most umpires allow a little bit of argument because they understand it’s easy to get upset at calls, but there are some lines that an umpire will not allow to be crossed and drawing a line with your bat is one of those lines.

When you draw a line in baseball, there is a high probability the umpire will eject you from the game.

As an example of how this plays out in Major League baseball, the video below is the one time in Ichiro Suzuki’s career where he was ejected from a game. Ichiro was unhappy with the called strike and drew a line where he believed the ball crossed the plate.

Baseball Players Draw Lines to Argue Strikes

Those who have played baseball for a while know that drawing a line with your bat can easily lead to ejection from the game. Even though most players know that drawing a line is not the best approach, we still sometimes see some players draw a line. Why do baseball players draw lines?

Baseball players draw lines to argue strikes, which is an action that is not tolerated in baseball. Baseball players draw a line to show the umpire where they think the ball crossed home plate and a majority of the time, baseball players will get ejected after drawing a line.

Sometimes, players let their emotions get the best of them and they draw a line with their bat as a way to “show up” an umpire. Baseball is an emotional game and sometimes can lose their cool. Why is it bad to draw a line in baseball?

As a general rule, it is disrespectful to draw a line in baseball because it’s considered a way to show-up the umpire or it’s a way to make the umpire look bad. It’s never in a player’s best interest to show-up an umpire.

In my time playing baseball, I’ve also seen some players get ejected for drawing a line with their bat. Even though players are frustrated in the moment, they eventually come to realize their mistake after they’ve had time to cool down.

Why did a Michigan Baseball Player Get Ejected?

If you do a quick search for videos of players being ejected for drawing a line, one video you’ll be sure to find is a controversial call where a baseball player from Michigan got ejected.

What makes this ejection controversial is that it’s unclear whether the batter was just normally touching the ground after a called strike or if the batter was actually drawing a line in the dirt where he thought the ball crossed. Why did this Michigan baseball player get ejected?

This Michigan baseball player was ejected in the top of the ninth inning for drawing a line in the dirt with his bat. Although it was a controversial ejection, the umpire believed the player was drawing a line with his bat and quickly ejected the player for arguing a called strike.

After watching the video, it’s tough to tell whether or not the Michigan player was just finishing his batting turn and preparing for the next pitch or if he actually drew a line where he thought the ball was. But either way, the umpire took that action as the batter arguing a strike and the batter was ejected from the game.

Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball on two different adult baseball teams in the surrounding area.

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