Most timed sports are divided into halves. The short break between the game’s two halves is known as halftime. During halftime, players and spectators get to stretch and recharge before they come back for the second part of the game. So it’s common for fans to wonder, does baseball have a halftime?
Baseball does not have an official halftime. Instead, players enjoy short breaks in between innings and while their teammates are batting. However, some consider the “seventh inning stretch” as baseball’s unofficial halftime.
In this article, we will get into more detail about what is considered halftime in baseball and learn why there is no official halftime.
The Seventh Inning Stretch is Like a Halftime
As the name suggests, the seventh-inning stretch in baseball is when spectators and players take time to stretch after the top half of the seventh inning.
The seventh-inning stretch is not a rule, but a tradition that arguably started in 1910 when President Taft stood up to stretch during the seventh inning. Other narratives claim the practice began earlier in 1882 with Brother Jasper.
Regardless of how it started, the seventh-inning stretch is still honored today in baseball. The seventh-inning stretch has no time limit, but it usually lasts 5-10 minutes.
During the seventh inning stretch, people usually sing the famous song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. The fans also enjoy various performances by the team mascots. The length of the seventh inning is usually determined by how long these entertainment activities will take. However, the extra time allotted for the 7th inning stretch is why some fans would consider the 7th inning stretch like a halftime.
Other than singing, players and fans get up from their seats and stretch by walking around the stadium. It is also an opportunity for fans to socialize or get a snack before enjoying the rest of the game. Players also appreciate the seventh inning because it is their chance to take a mental break from the game.
The seventh-inning stretch is a tradition and it isn’t required to happen during a game. However, most fans and players welcome the 7th inning stretch after a few hours in the ballpark.
There is a Short Break Between Two Halves of an Inning
Most baseball games last nine innings, and each inning is divided into two halves.
After the first half of every inning, the teams have to switch sides (this is where the term “the side” comes from). During this switch, there is a short break which some might consider a halftime.
Think about it: if each inning has a short break after every half-inning, it means a regular baseball game has multiple short breaks.
The definition of halftime is a short break between two halves of a game. The major difference with baseball is the timing and frequency of the short breaks. These short breaks are hard to notice when watching the game live. However, they are noticeable when the game is being broadcasted because you see commercials.
As a general rule, baseball allows two minutes for teams to switch between offense and defense. However, baseball is always looking for ways to implement rules around how long a game takes so it’s possible some leagues allow more or less time.
As an example, in 2019, the MLB placed a time limit on mid-inning breaks to 2 minutes for all broadcasted league games. Unlike other non-league baseball games, MLB games have to do this so the networks can make money.
Remember, baseball games can go on for hours before there is a winner, so MLB has to compromise with networks and give them time to advertise.
In non-professional baseball leagues, umpires typically decide how long a mid-inning break will last. Usually, the umpire allows a pitcher to throw seven or eight warm-up pitches before starting the next half-inning.
Why is There No Official Halftime in Baseball? (4 Possible Explanations)
1) Players Already Get Several Short Breaks During the Game
The major reason baseball has no halftime is that the players already get several short breaks within the game. Players get a break in between innings and they get a break while their teammates are batting.
Baseball is already a long game with frequent short breaks so there is no need to add additional breaks for halftime.
2) Baseball is Not a Timed Sport
In other sports, the game ends when the timer runs out. And in a few of those sports, it doesn’t matter whether there is a winner or a loser when the timer ends the game.
However, a baseball game can go on for hours because the game does not stop until a winner is determined. Therefore, it can be difficult to decide when halftime should be. Or if there are extra innings, baseball might need to incorporate an additional halftime (similar to how basketball or football takes another break before heading into extra time).
3) Baseball is Not a Contact Sport
In other sports, players run the entire game while bumping into other players, so it makes sense to have 15 minutes to rest and restrategize after half of the game has been completed.
In baseball, there is little to no physical contact with other players. The nine players on each team take turns participating in the game so baseball players are not worn out as quickly as players are in other sports.
From this perspective, baseball players have enough time to rest during the game, so halftime is unnecessary.
4) Baseball has a Different Setup
Baseball is not divided into two halves. Instead, it is divided into innings. Simply put, the game of baseball has a different structure than other sports.
The official number of innings in a baseball game is nine, but this can change depending on the game. The game can end early in the fifth or sixth inning if it rains too much, or the game can go on for unlimited extra innings until there is a winner. Some non-professional leagues even have a 10-run rule that will end a game early.
The game of baseball’s setup makes it difficult to decide when to incorporate a “halftime”.