In one of the more bizarre stories of the new baseball season, two players for the Texas Rangers have announced plans to stop doing a home run celebration in which they appeared to grab each other’s crotches.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara, who both play for the Rangers, have engaged in a celebratory ritual in which they do a “cup check” since the minor leagues. But when observers started to notice — and TMZ did too — the two men now say they’re going to go with a different, more subtle celebration.
“MLB PLAYERS Home Run Celebration…DOUBLE CROTCH GRAB!!!” is the headline TMZ went with earlier this week, after the two players did that celebration following a Gallo home run in a game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.
“We apologize for that,” Gallo told the newspaper. “We’ve done it for a while, but we won’t be doing it any longer.”
“We’ll do something to have some fun, but it won’t be that,” his teammate added. “If people got offended, we didn’t mean that. We want to have some fun, though.”
Gallo is a first baseman, while Mazara plays right field, and both have played for the Rangers for their entire careers. It’s unclear if they were told to stop doing the celebration by team management or anyone else with the Rangers or Major League Baseball.
Outsports, a website that covers LGBT-related topics in the sports world, addressed the topic this week.
“While this kind of ‘horseplay’ has been behind locker-room doors for years, their decision to do it out in the open says a lot about where the comfort-level is today of being seen as… a little ‘too close’ to your teammate,” writer Cyd Ziegler said. Ziegler did note, however, that the Rangers are one of the few remaining major league teams that have never hosted an LGBT Pride Night.
A lot of big league ballplayers engage in elaborate celebratory handshake rituals. Bryce Harper, the star player who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason, has a different handshake routine with just about every player on the team, Philly.com reported earlier this month. Buzzfeed, in 2014, ranked the best handshakes among then-active baseball players, with the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera on the list more than once.
The Chicago Cubs engaged in a celebration called “crotch bumping” during their championship season in 2016, which Pride.com wrote about at the time.