If you’re not a fan of baseball, then it can be difficult to realise just how much of a national institution it is in some countries.
As is well-known around the world, the United States goes pretty crazy for baseball, and it’s by far the country that appreciates the sport the most globally.
However, other countries, like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba also love baseball, so an appreciation for the sport is far from unique to the US.
Of course, insiders who know everything about baseball will be privy to a ton of lingo, jargon, and information that non-fans simply won’t understand, but even some of the more basic baseball information might be lost on the uninitiated.
For instance, how long do baseball games last? Do you know the length of a baseball game? Well, we’re here to give you the lowdown on just how lengthy baseball games can be.
An average baseball game lasts for a long time
When answering the question “how long do baseball games last?”, we must consider a simple fact: there is no official designated length for a baseball game.
Other sports, like football or hockey, have set game lengths that are dictated by a clock watched over by match officials, but this simply isn’t the case for baseball.
Instead, a game of baseball takes place across nine innings, each of which is divided into two halves. That’s where the term “bottom of the ninth” comes from; it’s a baseball term that refers to the absolute last-gasp moment when a team could win or lose it all.
Innings don’t have designated lengths. Rather, each inning is over when the team that’s currently pitching scores three outs over the batting team. This can take a long time depending on various match factors.
Broadly speaking, however, when we’re asking “how long do baseball games last?”, we can answer the question with an average figure.
On average, a baseball game will last for around three hours. According to the website baseball-reference.com, the average length of an MLB game in 2023 was 2 hours and 42 minutes.
That total is actually down from 2022’s 3 hours and 6 minutes, which is itself lower than the 2021 total of 3 hours and 11 minutes.
To put it simply, a baseball game runs for as long as it takes for the nine innings to finish, and the game cannot conclude before this has happened, with the exception of certain circumstances beyond the teams’ control.
Sometimes, when no clear winner has been established at the end of a baseball game, it can run for even longer as extra innings decide which team is the victor.
It’s fair to say that a baseball team has to be made up of serious athletes when the games run for that long!
That’s the basic answer to the question “how long do baseball games last?”. In short: they last as long as they need to, but games usually go on for around three hours, give or take ten minutes.
What is the longest baseball game ever recorded?
There are two metrics by which we can measure the longest baseball game ever recorded: number of innings and length of time.
Handily, the official MLB website keeps track of both, and so we know what the longest games of baseball are by both metrics.
The longest baseball game ever played in terms of innings took place as early as 1920, and saw the Brooklyn Robins taking on the Boston Braves.
The game ran for a staggering 26 innings, but despite this number, the length of time over which the game happened was just 3 hours and 50 minutes, which doesn’t sound a whole lot higher than the average length of a modern MLB game.
By contrast, the longest game ever played in terms of time took place in 1984 and actually featured one fewer innings than the 1920 game.
It saw the Chicago White Sox taking on the Milwaukee Brewers, with the White Sox eventually claiming victory over their rivals.
The game ran for an absolutely insane eight hours and six minutes. In fact, it was such a long game that play took place over two separate days!
What is the shortest baseball game ever recorded?
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look at the longest baseball games ever recorded, you may be interested in the other side of the coin; namely, what is the shortest baseball game ever recorded?
According to The Guardian, the shortest game of Major League Baseball ever recorded happened in 1919, when it’s fair to say that baseball was a lot less flashy and a lot more zippy.
The teams involved were the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies (the latter of which does rather feel like a tautology, doesn’t it?).
Two games were played, but the first took just 51 minutes to resolve. That’s right – the shortest baseball game ever played lasted for less than an hour.
If you’re interested in the result, the New York Giants smashed the Phillies six to one. Unfortunately for the Phillies – who were, at that point, nursing a very negative win-loss record – the Giants won the second game, too, increasing their lead to seven.
So, now you know how long baseball games last on average, as well as the longest and shortest games in history! Will this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between you and one of the US’ favourite national sports?