We Finally Know Why the Dodgers Pat Their Heads During Games

Chris Barilla - Author

Apr. 15 2021, Published 1:17 p.m. ET

Zach McKinstry
Source: Instagram

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a unique way of communicating with one another, and the meaning has never been shared with those outside the team, until now. Keen baseball fans might notice that Dodgers players often gesture at one another using head pats, often in indistinguishable circumstances.

So, why do the Dodgers pat their heads during games? Keep reading to find out.

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Why do the Dodgers pat their heads? Zach McKinstry offered some insight.

Team member Zach McKinstry was the first to indicate what the head patting Dodgers players engage in might actually mean. The meaning behind the gesture, which is most frequently seen expressed by Mookie Betts and Gavin Lux, has remained a complete mystery until this point.

dodgers zach
Source: Instagram
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"I think it was just Mookie and Gavin messing around. It’s like a basketball terminology, like you’re dunking on somebody," Zach recently explained. "It’s just kind of a way of showing a good play."

Indeed, when put into context, it makes sense that the gesture is indicative of a good play. The two aforementioned athletes have often expressed it when something is going well for their team, so it may be a slick way of communicating their happiness when they're doing well.

Given that overt "showboating," or exaggerated happiness over doing well in a game is generally frowned upon in most professional sports, the two team members have cleverly disguised their happiness with this gesture.

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Beyond Zach's basic summation of what he thinks the gesture means, there has been no further confirmation of whether his explanation is true or not. Despite how plausible this explanation may be, there's still room for interpretation, something Edwin Rios highlighted when asked the same question. 

"We’re going to keep that one low-key. It’ll be a surprise. Maybe Mook or Gav, because they kind of created it, so I’ll let them explain that," he said.

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Professional basketball fans may actually recognize the gesture as one used by plenty of players in the NBA as well. In their context, the head pat indicates a "slam dunk," which, according to Zach's definition, has been loosely reinterpreted into baseball terms by the Dodgers mainstays.

Zach was actually one of the players who did a head pat, and he told reporters after a recent successful game that it is, "Definitely awesome when you get to jog the bases instead of having to run them."

He hit a home run against the Washington Nationals on April 11, 2021, and it marked the first time that he struck the ball hard enough to knock it over the fence. Of course, to commemorate such a tremendous hit, he did the team's signature head pat, indicating a "slam dunk" of his own. 

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