Table of Contents
How lengthy is a Baseball game: A simple question
Baseball is a game that will not give instant enjoyment. It is a game where it is enjoyed over a period of time. If you have ever gone to a game, you know that part of the fun of watching baseball comes from eating some food and watching the game slowly.
But if you want to know how long is a baseball game is before going to one. The answer is about 3-4 hours.
Between major league baseball games and minor league baseball games, the game time is about the same. In contrast, MLB games are longer than the minor leagues.
Why is a baseball game so long?
Even after coming in 2023, How long is a Baseball game? It remains a common and frequently asked questions to a baseball lover. I have seen most new fans of the game ask this. The answer is in how a baseball game is set up on different levels.
A major league baseball game usually lasts for 9 innings and takes on AVERAGE about 3 hours. Minor baseball games and college baseball games are also nine innings long. But, college and minor league games have rules that SHORTEN the game time.
High school baseball games are a bit different from the rest. A high school baseball games last seven innings.
Baseball innings length
First of all, one baseball game last for six outs per innings; strikeouts don’t count! With nine innings per major league baseball game, a single inning can be quite long. Each inning is divided between the away team’s “top” half and the home team’s “bottom” half.
The “top” and the “bottom” rule doesn’t change in most baseball levels.
An innings might end quickly if there were three sets of outs, one after the other. Or it may take a long time if the pitcher has problems getting the outs. Baseball doesn’t have an exact time limit. Several factors affect how long an inning might last.
Theoretically, an inning may continue FOREVER if the pitcher can’t get all the outs!
How long is a baseball game? Why is it so long?
An average major league baseball game last for about 3 hours in all the games I have seen. However, the game time can and will change depending on a number of factors.
In 2020 the longest MLB game was for 13 innings, and in 2019, the longest MLB game was for 14 innings, and there were 23 games that season with 14 innings!
Not all baseball games go on for so long, so don’t be afraid. A league baseball game can sometimes end in 8.5 innings if the home team leads during the top half of the ninth inning.
Also, an MLB game will end by the fifth inning due to inclement weather.
The game time of a baseball game is not easy to determine. The average game time varies between seasons and sometimes between games.
With a higher number of runners on base, pitchers will be more cautious. Due to more bases being loaded, pitchers will take their time between pitches, extending the game time. Also, pitch changes and replay requests total time of the game will be longer.
In 2015, MLB announced that they will implement rules that will help in shortening the game duration. A timer helped in keeping track of time between innings as well as mound visits.
A timer kept track of the time between pitches in the minor league, and a 20-second pitch clock was put in place when the bases are bare.
How long was a baseball game during Covid-19?
In 2020, during the COVID situation, a runner set up in second base to speed up the game. Also, he helped in saving the pitchers from pitching for too long.
As a devoted Boston Red Sox fan, I have maintained a record of their games for quite some time. Most of the game time I’ll talk about is from the 2019 season.
The average game duration for the Sox was about 3 hours and 25 mins in the 2019 season. This duration is about 1206% longer than the Detroit Tigers, another team I will talk about later.
Red Sox had 4 games that were more than 12 innings that season. One of which lasted for 15 innings, with a total duration of 5 hours and 54 mins. Now that is a long baseball game to watch. Thankfully I watched it from my TV and not at the stadium.
Of all the Red Sox games, 6 of them lasted over four hours and were nine innings long. A seventh nine-inning game lasted for precisely 3 hours and 59 minutes. One of the 6 games that lasted over four hours was just short by three minutes from being the longest nine innings game.
The shortest game for the Red Sox during the 2019 season was 2 hours and 16 minutes.
If you are a Red Sox fan watch this video of their longest game from MLB youtube channel.
On the other end, the Detroit Tigers game durations are the opposite of the Red Sox. They had 11 games that lasted less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. Their shortest game lasted for only 1 hour and 59 minutes. That was a game to watch.
The Tigers only had 4 games that were over 4 hours in length.
How long is a Minor League Baseball game?
Minor league baseball includes the triple-A international league and other professional leagues. It follows the same rules and guidelines as the MLB games.
Additionally, it also has the above-mentioned 20-second pitch clock, which helps shorten the game time by 12 minutes in a most minor league game.
Most Minor league baseball game last about 2 hours and 48 minutes long.
During the 2018 season, the double-A and triple-A international league games lasted for about 2 hours and 41 minutes to 2 hours and 52 minutes.
How long is a College baseball game?
College baseball games are also nine innings long. Under specific conditions, both of the doubleheader college league game will be seven innings long. The NCAA college baseball rules use a mercy rule that states that if one of the teams has 10 or more runs before by the end of seven innings that team wins.
In the college league, there are multiple divisions, of which Division I is the highest. The Division I games has an average baseball game last for 2 hours and 59, which is 5 minutes shorter than the MLB 2018 season.
For more information on college baseball rules please visit here
Just below the college level is the high school baseball games which average at two hours. However, the game times swing about a lot due to the mercy rule and other facts. Sometimes the games have to end if a game goes over two hours.
How long is a Youth Baseball game?
Youth baseball games have different lengths. Here is a comprehensive guide on how long is a youth baseball game:
- Tee-Ball: For kids age 4-7 and is played for five innings. The youth baseball game of this level changes the number of innings on time remaining.
- Little League: For kids age 7-13 and has six innings.
- Babe Ruth League: For players age 13-18 and is the same as the high school league. The youth baseball games of this level consist of seven innings. Also it is know as high school baseball league informally.
Interesting game factors on baseball game lenght
Most sports around the world are tracked using a clock, but baseball is different. Baseball doesn’t have that clock; youth league is not counted. Many elements thus determine how long a baseball game is supposed to be.
Most of the prominent reasons for a baseball game being long are the number of baserunners per innings, the number of pitching changes in a game, the speed of the pitchers, and the skill level of the teams and their players.
A combination of these reasons will determine the length of a major league baseball game and a minor-league baseball game.
Back in 2016, the statistical website on different MLB game FanGraphs tried to figure out why baseball games were so long.
They analyzed and discovered that from 2006 to 2014, an average MLB game time is about 14 minutes longer than previous seasons. But in 2015, the game length decreased by six minutes. Yet in the next season, the game time lowered by about six minutes!
There are many instances of time swings due to many factors.
FanGraphs was able to recognize some significant reasons for the average length being so long. Some of those reasons are time in between the pitches, the number of runners on base per innings, the number of pitches thrown by the pitcher per batters.
Along with those factors, like the number of pitching changes, another one has increased in the last decade, which lengthened the game a bit. Likewise, the time between the innings has increased to 2 minutes and 5 seconds in MLB games.
The increase in time between innings differs in various levels of baseball games. For nationally-televised regular games, 2 minutes and 25 seconds are set in-between innings. For postseason games, inning breaks last about 2 minutes and 55 seconds.
On top of those factors, a pattern becomes noticeable between the number of pitcher changes and game pace. In recent MLB games, the average number of pitchers used is around four and pitching changes has become more regular.
Back in the 1930s and 40s, the number of pitchers was only about 1.83!
How will the Pace of Play help a long Baseball game?
Pace of play is an ongoing issue about MLB and college baseball-level game length. Since the 1988’s New York Yankees over three hours long game most professional level baseball games has been getting longer.
Due to the ever-increasingly long baseball games, measures have been put in place to shorten the games. Some of those measures are:
- Teams can visit the mound 6 times per nine innings a game.
- Decreased time in between innings
- Only seen in the minor leagues so far. May make an appearance in the major league in the future.
- Intentional walks are allowed without throwing a pitch.
- While at-bat, batter’s aren’t allowed to move around.
If you don’t believe here is a video on how player make the game long from Vox youtube channel.
While some of the steps mentioned above have had positive results, the average game time is still rising. According to some experts, the average game time growing is a cultural thing. From a player’s point of view, they are more familiar with a slower pace of play.
One of the policies implemented by the MLB faced a lot of opposition. The Batter’s Box Policy made it so that a batter had to keep at least one foot at all time on the plate. Some batters like David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox had this to say about the policy.
“I saw one pitch, when I come out, I’m thinking, ‘What is this guy going to try to do to me next?’ I’m not walking around just because there’s cameras all over the place and I want my buddies back home to see me and this and that.”[David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox DH]
Simply put the answer to how long is a baseball game is that it’s about three to four hours long but they can go for much longer if the teams are really good. There are multiple reasons why a baseball game might be longer.
We have even gone into detail about the length of baseball games at different league levels. Altogether you should have a complete idea about baseball game lengths.
Read my other popular article