Which Side Does the Home Team Sit On in Baseball

Unveiling the Mystery of Home Team Dugout Seating in Baseball: The Tradition, Advantages, and Exceptions
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

In baseball, the home team’s dugout location isn’t set in stone, as it varies by ballpark; however, they typically occupy the dugout on the first base or third base line depending on the league and the team’s tradition. This choice can be influenced by strategic views of the field, dugout comfort, or simply longstanding custom.

KEY
POINTS
  • Home teams traditionally occupy the first-base side dugout in baseball due to historical context and convenience.
  • Advantages of sitting on the first-base side include a better view of the field, increased ability to communicate with umpires and base stealers, and improved communication between players and coaching staff.
  • Exceptions to this tradition exist in some stadiums, such as Oracle Park and Wrigley Field where the home team occupies the third-base side dugout due to climate control, historical context, and other factors.

The tradition of home team dugout side

The time-honored tradition of the home team occupying the first-base side dugout in baseball has its roots in the early days of the sport. While the exact origin of this custom is shrouded in the mists of baseball history, it has become an enduring element of the game’s culture. This seating arrangement, so deeply ingrained in baseball’s identity, carries with it both advantages and disadvantages that continue to shape the sport today.

The first-base side dugout emerged as the customary location for the home team due to a combination of factors. One key reason was that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, baseball fields were often designed with the clubhouses situated behind the first-base side. As such, it was more convenient for the home team to access their locker rooms and facilities from the first-base dugout. The home team dugout’s proximity to the clubhouse allows for quicker access to facilities and equipment, streamlining the process of preparing for the game or making adjustments between innings. 

There are certain advantages to sitting on the first-base side that have contributed to this tradition’s persistence. For instance, it gives the home team’s coaching staff a clearer view of the base runners and the batter’s box, which can be crucial for making strategic decisions during the game. Moreover, right-handed batters, who typically make up most of a team’s lineup, have a better view of the field when facing the pitcher from the first-base dugout. 

Another advantage of sitting on the first-base side is that it allows the home team to have better communication with the umpires. In most baseball stadiums, the umpire crew chief stands on the first-base side of the field. This means that if the home team occupies the first-base side, they will have more opportunities to communicate with the umpire crew chief, potentially giving them an advantage.

Furthermore, it puts the home team in a better position to defend against potential base stealers. Because most base stealers will attempt to steal second base located on the first-base side of the field, the home team will have a better view of the action and be able to make a quicker defensive play.

However, the first-base side is not without its drawbacks. Players seated in the first-base dugout may have a difficult time observing the opposing pitcher’s movements, making it harder to discern pitch selection or identify weaknesses. Additionally, left-handed pitchers, who are less common but still valuable in the game, may have a harder time observing the field from the first-base side.

In addition, the first-base side tends to be more exposed to the sun and heat, which can make it uncomfortable for players and fans alike. The first-base side may also be more crowded with fans, which can make it harder for the home team to communicate with each other.

Finally, because the home team’s dugout is typically larger and more visible than the visiting team’s dugout, occupying the first-base side of the field can make it easier for opposing teams to scout the home team’s game strategy. 

Home team dugout exceptions

While the first-base side dugout is widely accepted as the traditional location for the home team, there are notable exceptions that break away from this convention. A few teams and stadiums, with their own unique reasons and historical contexts, have chosen to place their home dugouts on the third-base side, creating an interesting deviation from the norm.

One prime example is the San Francisco Giants, who call Oracle Park their home. The Giants’ dugout is situated on the third-base side, partly due to the park’s orientation and its efforts to minimize the impact of strong winds coming off the San Francisco Bay. By placing the home team on the third-base side, the Giants ensure that their players and coaches are better shielded from the elements during games, making for a more comfortable experience.

Similarly, the Chicago Cubs have a third-base side home dugout at the historic Wrigley Field. The rationale behind this choice can be traced back to the stadium’s construction in 1914, when the first-base side was closer to the clubhouses. As a result, the visiting team was assigned the first-base dugout, while the home team took the third-base side. Despite renovations that have since moved the clubhouses, the Cubs have maintained this unique arrangement as a nod to their long-standing history and the enduring charm of Wrigley Field.

One of the factors influencing a team’s decision to sit on the third-base side is climate control. For teams in regions with colder climates or harsher weather conditions, situating the home dugout on the third-base side can provide better protection from the elements. In certain stadiums, the third-base dugout provides more shade from the sun, which can help keep players cool and comfortable during the game. This can be particularly beneficial during hot summer days when heat and sun exposure could affect player performance and comfort.

Moreover, as the home team sits on the third-base side, the sun is at the back of their batters, providing a clear view of the ball as it approaches them. The third-base side also allows the third baseman to communicate more effectively with the dugout, which can be crucial during crucial moments in the game.

Lastly, the influence of historical context. Some teams have been established with their home dugouts on the third-base side for decades, and the desire to maintain a connection to their past serves as a powerful motivator. By preserving these traditions, teams can foster a sense of continuity and shared identity that resonates with fans and players alike.

MLB teams: list of home dugout locations 

If you’re curious about which MLB teams have their dugouts on the first or third base side, here’s a handy list:

MLB Teams With Home Dugouts On The Third-Base Side

  • San Francisco Giants (Oracle Park)
  • Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field)
  • Cleveland Guardians (Progressive Field)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodger Stadium)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)
  • Miami Marlins (loanDepot Park)
  • Oakland Athletics (RingCentral Coliseum)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (PNC Park)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (Chase Field)
  • Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park)
  • Chicago White Sox (Guaranteed Rate Field)
  • Los Angeles Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim)

MLB Teams With Home Dugouts On The First-Base Side

  • New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium)
  • Kansas City Royals (Kauffman Stadium)
  • Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park)
  • Seattle Mariners (T-Mobile Park)
  • Atlanta Braves (Truist Park)
  • Minnesota Twins (Target Field)
  • Houston Astros (Minute Maid Park)
  • Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field)
  • Milwaukee Brewers (American Family Field)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (Citizens Bank Park)
  • Colorado Rockies (Coors Field)
  • Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)
  • Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park at Camden Yards)
  • New York Mets (Citi Field)
  • San Diego Padres (Petco Park)
  • Texas Rangers (Globe Life Field)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (Busch Stadium)

FAQ

Is it better to sit by first base or third base?

The choice between sitting by first base or third base at a baseball game is a matter of personal preference, as both locations offer unique perspectives on the action. First-base seating typically grants spectators a better view of right-handed batters and the home team’s dugout, allowing for a closer look at the players and coaching staff. 

Conversely, third base seating provides an optimal view of left-handed batters and the visiting team’s dugout, creating an opportunity to observe the opposition’s strategies and interactions. When deciding where to sit, consider factors such as your favorite team, the handedness of the batters you want to watch, and the specific stadium’s design.

Is sitting behind the dugout good?

Seats situated behind the dugout can provide an exceptional vantage point for fans eager to be close to the action and the players. This prime location offers an intimate glimpse of the game, allowing spectators to witness player interactions, coaching decisions, and other behind-the-scenes moments that enrich the overall experience. However, it is important to note that sitting behind the dugout often comes with a higher price tag due to the premium location. As such, fans should carefully weigh the benefits against the cost when choosing their seats.

Where is the best place to sit at a baseball game?

Determining the best place to sit at a baseball game is a highly subjective matter, as individual preferences and priorities play a crucial role in the decision. Some fans may favor sitting behind home plate, as this position offers a comprehensive view of the entire field and captures the full scope of the game. Others might prefer the outfield bleachers, which provide a more casual and social atmosphere, perfect for enjoying the game with friends and fellow fans. Additionally, seats along the baselines or behind the dugouts can deliver a close-up perspective on specific players and game dynamics. 

Ultimately, the best seat for each fan will depend on their interests, budget, and the particular stadium’s layout, ensuring that every attendee can find their ideal spot to savor the thrilling spectacle of baseball.

Conclusion

In the world of baseball, the placement of the home team’s dugout has far-reaching implications transcending mere aesthetics and impacting the strategies, performances, and experiences of both the players and the fans. As explored in this article, tradition dictates that the home team sits on the first-base side, with origins rooted in historical context and various advantages associated with this positioning. However, exceptions to the rule exist, with teams like the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs opting for the third-base side dugout due to stadium design, climate control, historical traditions, and strategic considerations.

The decision on where to sit at a baseball game is a subjective matter, influenced by individual preferences, priorities, and the stadium’s layout. Regardless of the chosen location, baseball enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the captivating atmosphere and intricate dynamics of this beloved sport. Ultimately, the side on which the home team sits serves as a testament to the rich tapestry of baseball, with every dugout and seating arrangement telling a unique story about the team, the stadium, and the passionate fans that fill the stands.

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