There is another good reason to follow the ball to the mitt and it has to do with your relations with the umpire. Umpires do not appreciate being “shown up” in front of everyone. Keeping your eyes looking forward on the pitch creates the potential for a batter unintentionally showing up an umpire. Here’s how.
Hunter Pence tracks the ball all the way to the
mitt and now faces the umpire.
(Photo by SaikoSakura)
When a batter follows every pitch they take all the way back to the catcher’s mitt, his eyes are already looking back to where the umpire is. If the call is a strike and the batter disagrees (and has something to say about it), the only people who know what’s going on are the batter, the catcher, and the umpire. That's because he never whipped his head back. Umpires usually will give a batter a little more latitude with their comments in this situation because it has been kept between the three of them. Snapping your head back after the call virtually guarantees the umpire will not take too kindly to anything that is said. On TV, this is when the ump commonly whips off his mask and gives the batter an earful.
So follow the ball back to the mitt when you take pitches. It has some practical advantages for hitters and it also helps get some experience in diplomacy.