A bench-clearing brawl, sometimes known as a basebrawl, is a form of ritualistic fighting that occurs in sports, most notably baseball and ice hockey, in which both teams leave their dugouts, bullpens, or benches and charge the playing area in order to fight one another.
In baseball, brawls are usually the result of escalating infractions, often stemming from being hit by pitch, or an altercation between a baserunner and infielder stemming from excessive contact in an attempted tag out. They are also known to occur when a batter charges the mound. However, few bench-clearing brawls result in serious injury. In most cases, no punches are thrown, and the action is limited to pushing and shoving. Since a bench-clearing brawl by definition involves everyone on both teams, it is exceedingly rare for all participants to be ejected, even though the pitcher or batter responsible for the precipitating event are often ejected.
Unlike most other team sports, in which teams usually have an equivalent number of players on the field at any given time, in baseball the hitting team is at a numerical disadvantage, with a maximum of 5 players and 2 base coaches on the field at any time, compared to the fielding team's 9 players. For this reason, leaving the dugout to join a fight is generally considered acceptable in that it results in numerical equivalence on the field, and a fairer fight. In at least one case, one team left its dugout to defend the other from the fans.