The sky darkens, clouds roll in, and your chest sinks; you know the baseball game is going to be rained out today. But you already bought tickets! So, what happens to your baseball tickets when it rains?
If it rains on the day of the anticipated baseball game, spectators will receive a credit or a “rain check.” Money will not be reimbursed for the ticket, but tickets for the original game will be valid as vouchers at the rescheduled makeup game. In light or moderate rain, the game will continue.
Though it is incredibly disappointing to miss the game on the day you’ve eagerly anticipated attending, practically all baseball leagues are cooperative and understanding when it comes to inclement weather. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, you can count on being able to use your tickets and watch the game on the next available date.
What is a Rainout?
In baseball, a rainout occurs when inclement weather causes a game to be rescheduled. Most leagues will proceed as planned if it is simply sprinkling or if the rain is fairly moderate, but on days when there is a heavy downpour or a lightning storm, the league will reschedule the game. It is not safe for baseball players to be running around the field when visibility is low and traction is impossible. It is also not safe for spectators to be sitting in the metal bleachers if there is thunder and lightning.
Sometimes, on days when the rain is heavy or weather reports indicate that it will be, the home team manager will call a rainout before the game. More often than not, the rescheduled game will be held on the following day. Other times, heavy storms will start in the middle of a baseball game and cause a rainout.
If a rainout occurs in the middle of a game, the umpire is required to wait at least 75 minutes to determine if the weather will improve to playable conditions. The grounds crew of the home team will then spread a tarp over the baseball field to help prevent the diamond and the outfield from getting damaged by excessive amounts of water or hail.
It is difficult for players to run on a wet field, which is why the rainout policy has remained in force since the 1870s. Though this policy is necessary for the safety and enjoyment of all people involved, the nitty-gritty of the rules themselves can be a bit complicated.
Here are the basic elements of the rainout policy:
- If the home team is winning, a rainout can only be legitimately considered if fewer than four and a half innings have been completed.
- If the visiting team is winning, a rainout can only be legitimately considered if less than five innings have been completed.
- After five innings, the game is considered official and the scores remain recorded, even if the duration of the game is suspended. When this happens, the game is typically completed the following day, starting with the same scores and stats the teams had incurred at the original game, often as part of a doubleheader.
- A suspended or rain-shortened game occurs when the game has lasted for more than half of the nine innings and when the umpire and team manager have decided to record the current scores as final. Rain-shortened games will not be completed at a later date and the team that had been in the lead with the score will be deemed the winner.
- If a rainout occurs and the competing teams cannot feasibly complete a makeup game due to scheduling conflicts, the game will be canceled. Spectators may redeem tickets to a canceled game at subsequent games within the same league.
- Tickets for a rained-out game cannot be exchanged.
- On days when there is a dangerous amount of lightning, fog, or snow, team managers can call delays. Even though these are not technically rainouts, they follow generally the same procedures.
- Tickets to a rainout game are valid for the makeup game. Whether online or physical, the original ticket will be used to enter the stadium on the day of the rescheduled game.
- Refunds are not given for rainout games, so it is definitely worth using your original ticket as a voucher.
- If tickets were complimentary, sometimes they will be stamped with the words “NO RAINCHECK.” This means that, unlike regular tickets that can be vouchers for different games within the same league, these tickets can only be used as vouchers for the consecutive makeup game or as half admission to the doubleheader the following day.
- Pre-paid parking passes for games that have been rained out function through a similar process as the tickets, in other words, they are forwarded as parking vouchers for the next game.
Though it is inconvenient and discouraging to have a game delayed due to the weather, Major League Baseball organizations have determined that this policy is the best way to enjoy the safety of both the players and spectators.
Some arenas have built enclosed stadium covers to prevent games from being rained out. These structures allow games to proceed on rainy days and are especially prominent in areas where rain is exceptionally common.
Luckily, MLB teams play 81 home games per season, so if you strike out on the original game day, your chances of using your “rain check” to catch another great game are high.
Sometimes, if it is apparent that the rainstorm is passing through the area at a favorable speed, team managers will call a rain delay. This differs from a rainout in that it simply means the game is paused until the weather resumes being favorable. The ground crew spreads a tarp over the diamond to protect it from getting muddy or damaged and the players and spectators sit and wait for the rain to pass.
The longest rain delay in history was a 1990 game between the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox; it lasted 7 hours and 23 minutes. Sometimes, players will get bored during the rain delays and entertain spectators by slipping and sliding on the diamond tarp. After all, sports are about cultivating fun, memorable moments. No reason to let the world rain on your parade.
Why Can’t Baseball be Played in the Rain?
A reasonable question to ask is why baseball games can’t be played in the rain. After all, other sports are allowed to play in the rain, but baseball seems to play by its own set of rules.
In general, baseball isn’t played in the rain because baseball players can more easily injure themselves in the rain. Players are more prone to getting injured in the rain when trying to field a small baseball that is flying towards them or when they are on the basepaths and more prone to slipping.
Learn more about the 9 reasons why baseball isn’t played in the rain.