In baseball, a dugout is an area on the side of the field that houses the team's bench, where players and other designated personnel sit during a game when they are not in play. Players also use the area to store their equipment, such as helmets and bats. There are two dugouts, one for each team, and they are located between home and either the first or third base.
A dugout is so named because it is generally dug out of the ground to be lower than the playing field. This prevents the space from blocking the spectators' view of the home plate and the rest of the field. In some ballparks, the dugout is level with the field, and spectator seating is raised so that view of the game is not obstructed. Those that are level with the field are most often found in amateur, high school, and Little League ballparks, as they are cheaper to build than below-field ones. In most Major League ballparks, each is connected to a clubhouse by a tunnel.
The Major League Baseball (MLB) Rulebook has a number of rules governing the use of dugouts. A player may reach into them to catch a fly ball, but one or both of his feet must be on or above the playing field. After catching the ball, he may enter the dugout, but if he falls, the catch is not valid. A live ball that enters the area becomes dead.
The MLB Rulebook also specifies who is allowed to occupy the dugout. During a game, occupancy is limited to players, substitutes, coaches, managers, trainers, and batboys. Players and coaches ejected from the game cannot be there.
There are no rules regarding which team occupies which dugout. In most cases, the home team chooses the one on the first base side, but a good amount use the third base side instead. One theory holds that the first base side is preferred because more plays happen there, but the home team often simply bases their choice on which side has a better clubhouse.