Whether you’re an avid baseball fan or just getting into the game of baseball, everyone wonders just how long a game of baseball will last. Will this event be something you need to plan as an all-day event or will it be something that takes up a small part of your day?
On average, a professional baseball game will last 9 innings and 3 hours. For youth baseball leagues, an average baseball game will last 7 innings and 2 hours.
These numbers can also vary from one baseball league to another.
Baseball Game Length by League
Baseball games vary in innings played and time played depending on the type of league being discussed. Major League games technically have no time-limit, but when averaged out, most major league games last around 3 hours and 9 innings.
On the other hand, tee-ball games will be between 3-5 innings and last about an hour and a half.
Let’s take a high-level look at the number of innings played and the average time length of baseball games by the league type.
|Baseball League||Innings Played||Average Game Length|
|Tee-Ball (ages 4-5)||3-5||1.5 hours|
|Minor Leauge (ages 5-11)||6||2 hours|
|Major Division (ages 9-12)||6||2 hours|
|Intermediate (50/70) (ages 11-13)||7||2 hours|
|Junior Leauge (ages 12-14)||7||2 hours|
|Senior Leauge (ages 13-16)||7||2 hours|
|Babe Ruth (ages 13-15)||7||2 hours|
|High School (ages 15-18)||7||2 hours|
|College (ages 18 and above)||9||3 hours|
|Minor League (ages 18 and above)||9||3 hours|
|Major League (ages 18 and above)||9||3 hours|
The above graph lists out the average number of innings played as well as the average time duration for Little League through the Major League. The innings played and the time played can vary from game to game and it depends on the rules of the league.
Factors that Influence the Length of a Baseball Game
The Players Can Extend the Length of a Game
Players play an important factor in just how long the game takes. There are typically two types of players that are looked at when we’re referring to the pace of play in baseball: the pitcher and the batter.
The Pitcher Sets the Pace of Play
The pitcher plays a big part in the pace of the game. Some pitchers prefer to quick-pitch the batters while some pitchers are more comfortable taking their time in-between pitches.
The longer it takes a pitcher to deliver the ball in between pitches, the longer the game will last. This is also apparent when viewing some data that Bleacher Report came out with, which shows that the average length of games has been increasing over the span of 10 years. During that same time, the average length it takes a pitcher to deliver the ball has also been increasing.
The Batter Can Call For Time-Out
The batter is also responsible for the pace of play in baseball. When batting, the batter has the ability to call for time at any point before the pitcher begins their delivery. If the umpire calls time, then the pace of play has slowed down due to the batter.
Also when batting, a batter can take some time in-between pitches to get ready for the next pitch. The more pitches there are and the more time a batter takes in-between pitches, the longer the game can last.
The Human Rain Delay in Baseball
Players that have taken the longest time in-between pitches have been nicknamed “The Human Rain Delay”. In fact, there have been two players that have had the unfortunate honor of this nickname – Mike Hargrove and Steve Trachsel.
Mike Hargrove was the original owner of the nickname “The Human Rain Delay”. He received this nickname as a batter because he would have a fairly long routine to get ready for the next pitch.
To see an example of his batting ritual, check out this video from the MLB.
Steve Trachsel also acquired the nickname “The Human Rain Delay”, but his nickname was for taking a long time in-between pitches as a pitcher.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Steve Trachsel had two years in which the games he pitched were well above the average time for the MLB. The first time was in 1998 where his games ended up taking 19 minutes longer than the average time, and another time in 2002 where his games took 14 minutes longer than the average game time.
These examples are both towards the extreme of how players can impact the speed of the game, but it goes to show just how much the little things that players do can add up.
Weather Impacts Length of a Baseball Game
The way the weather impacts the game time of baseball depends on how you want to measure game time.
Rain Delay Can Extend the Length of the Game
If we’re just looking at what time the game started and comparing it to what time the game ended, then a rain delay will obviously impact the game time a lot more than any other weather factor.
However, some people would prefer to omit the rain delay time when measuring the length of a baseball game. Either way to measure the length of the baseball game is fine, but when discussing how to measure something it always helps to understand the context.
Other than a rain delay, some other weather factors that impact the length of a baseball game are the temperature and wind.
High Wind Speed Can Lead to Longer or Shorter Baseball Games
Depending on the direction and speed of the wind, the wind can either turn a pop-up into a homerun or turn a game into a pitcher’s duel.
If the wind is blowing out then one can reasonably guess that more base hits and home runs will occur. And even though a game with more base hits and home runs is an exciting game, the more that players get on base the longer each inning will take.
On the other side of the equation, if the wind is blowing in directly from centerfield then the game can easily turn into a pitcher’s duel. This would be due to the pitcher having more velocity on their pitches as well as fly-balls staying in the park.
Once a game turns into a pitcher’s duel it will start to go by quickly!
Cold and Warm Temperatures Extend Length of Games
If you’ve ever played in a very hot or a very cold game of baseball then you know the temperature impacts the pace of play (or at least it feels like it).
My initial assumption was that colder games would be shorter and warmer games would be longer. My thinking was that batters would have a difficult time connecting with the pitch when it’s cold and there would be more substitutions when it’s warmer.
It turns out, both cold and warm games lead to longer game times. According to some interesting research by All My Sports Teams Suck, “the games from 40-69 degrees are between 1.8-3.2 minutes faster than games outside of that temperature range.”
There can be some debate around the why behind this difference, but one suggestion is that players, especially pitchers, need more substitute players during warmer and colder games. If pitchers are being changed out more, then the length of the game would naturally be extended.
Extra Innings Leads to Extra Game Time
One event that can easily prolong any baseball game is a tied game. Playing extra innings in baseball will extend the duration of the game, but playing extra innings also depends on which league you are a part of.
For example, a lot of youth baseball rules will allow a baseball game to end in a tie while Major League Baseball does not allow a baseball game to end in a tie. Although, if a youth baseball team is playing in a tournament or a playoff then games are typically not allowed to end in a tie.
If a game is allowed to end in a tie then the result is that extra innings will have little to no impact on the length of a baseball game. However, if the rules do not allow to end in a tie then the baseball game can theoretically last forever.
What is the longest game of baseball ever played?
The longest game of 33 innings was set by two Triple-A teams in 1920 when the Pawtucket Red Sox beat the Rochester Red Wings 3-2. The longest game time of 8 hours and 6 minutes was set in 1984 when the Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 25 innings.
The Ten-Run Rule Shortens Game Time
Most youth baseball and adult baseball leagues have a rule called the ten-run rule that is partly designed to help with the time of the baseball game.
The ten-run rule means that if one team is ahead of another team by ten runs and the game is past a certain inning (defined in the rule book), the team that is ahead by ten runs wins the game.
This rule prevents one team from running up the score as well as prevents the game from going on for a long time. If a team is able to get an early jump on their opponent, then the game could end earlier than predicted.
Forfeits Equal No Play Time
Because forfeits are rare, they are often overlooked as having an impact on the time of a baseball game.
When a team forfeits, the opposing team wins without having to actually play. So one team gets a win and actually has 0 minutes of playing time.
How Long is One Inning?
In general, one inning is twenty minutes long. The calculation for twenty minutes comes from the traditional baseball game of nine innings taking three hours. When divided out, each inning represents approximately twenty minutes.
And remember, one inning is when both teams make 3 outs. So it typically takes 20 minutes for each team to make a total of six outs.