A brushback pitch is a pitch thrown close enough to the batter to intimidate him. A brushback pitch is different from a bean ball because some bean balls are actually intended to hit the batter, not just to scare him. Batters don't always make this distinction, resulting in the occasional bench-clearing brawl.
The brushback can be a valuable part of a pitcher's arsenal, as it can have two desirable effects on the batter:
- It may make the batter back away from the plate, making it harder for him to hit an outside pitch
- It may intimidate the batter, making him afraid of inside strikes
Refusing to be intimidated by the brushback is a critical trait for major league batters, as those who can be intimidated likely will be regular victims of brushback pitches.