College and professional baseball games typically consist of nine innings lasting an average of three hours. High school baseball games, on the other hand, comprise just seven innings. In some instances, a college baseball game may also be shortened to seven innings, as with the case of doubleheaders.
How long does a 7 inning baseball game last? On average, a baseball game with seven innings will just take about two hours to finish.
Longest and Shortest Baseball Game Length
While people can expect to spend two to three hours in a stadium or in front of the TV set, bear in mind that this time range is just the average length of baseball game events.
Seven-inning and nine-inning baseball matches can end earlier or stretch for more hours depending on different circumstances.
- Just to give you an idea, the longest game played in MLB history lasted over eight hours in a 1984 match between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. That’s five hours more than the average MLB game length!
- In stark contrast, records point to a 1919 match between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies as being the shortest MLB game ever played in baseball history. It lasted a mere 51 minutes with the Giants winning the game at 6-1.
Minor league baseball game records even mention matches winding up in as little as half an hour. The bout between the Mobile Sea Gulls and the Atlanta Crackers in 1910 lasted just 32 minutes while a 1916 game between the Asheville Tourists and the Winston-Salem Twins was only 31 minutes long.
Factors That Affect the Duration of Baseball Game Outcomes
Unlike major team sports like basketball and football (NBA and NFL) that are run with a clock, baseball games don’t have an exact time limit. Opposing teams just need to play seven or nine baseball game innings each to complete the match.
Here are some factors that determine how long baseball games can last:
1. Length of Innings
In baseball, defense is required to complete three outs per half-inning when offense is up to bat. This makes for 27 outs per team or a total of 54 outs in a 9-inning match. For a 7-inning game, this adds up to 21 outs per team or a total of 42 outs.
Unlike basketball and football which have timed quarter sets, each baseball inning doesn’t have a time limit. It can end quickly when three batters are immediately put out in a half-inning or stretch longer with multiple foul balls or hitters advancing to bases and scoring runs.
To illustrate how disparately inning lengths can vary, the fifth inning of a 2004 game between the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers stretched to one hour and eight minutes. Both teams scored a combined total of 18 runs in that single inning which was thrice the length of an average inning.
2. Pitcher substitution
Every baseball team will have starting pitchers and relief pitchers so it’s not unusual for baseball games to lag a bit due to pitching changes.
Besides allowing starting pitchers some rest between innings, team managers also use this tactic as a game strategy to achieve the best matchup for certain hitters.
For instance, managers may select a particular pitcher who specializes in left-handed batters when one is up at bat. Alternatively, they may decide to bring in a left-handed pitcher in the middle of a game since batters usually find it more difficult to hit a pitch coming from one.
Pitcher substitution eats up time considering the manager has to walk up the mound to initiate the switch and get the umpire’s approval. To make matters worse, substitute pitchers were only required to pitch to one batter who either advances to a base or is put out before they can be replaced again.
This had games lagging further until authorities stepped in to reduce MLB time of game substantially. From 2020 onwards, the league required all pitchers to go up against at least three batters or pitch until the end of an inning when the opposing team is at bat.
3. Extra innings
Extra innings are added in case baseball matches result in a tie at the end of a 7-inning or 9-inning game. Rarely have professional baseball games ended in a tie except due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather disturbances or both competing teams running out of available pitchers.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding the minimum or the maximum number of innings that can be added in a baseball game. Extra innings just have to be played until one team breaks the tie to come out the winner.
A winner can emerge with just an extra inning but it’s worth mentioning that the same longest MLB game between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers mentioned earlier consisted of 25 innings. It took 16 extra innings to break the tie for a final score of 7-6 in favor of the Sox.
To address this issue of how extra innings can possibly last longer than the actual 7-inning or 9-inning game itself, MLB recently altered its rules and placed a runner on second base at the start of each extra inning. A runner in scoring position can help either team score that tie-breaking run earlier and faster.
How long does an inning in a baseball game last?
Each inning in baseball lasts an average of 20 minutes. However, this can differ greatly depending on how pitchers make their throws and how batters hit (or miss) the ball.
Runners on base can also add to the length of a baseball inning when they attempt to make steals after the ball is pitched.
Why does MLB have 7 inning games?
Major League Baseball adopted the 7-inning game format at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to comply with health restrictions and lessen both player and crowd exposure.
If you’re wondering how long is a 7-inning baseball game in MLB, matches during the shortened 2020 and 2021 seasons lasted just around two hours each.
With Covid-19 becoming less of a threat these days, MLB reverted to the traditional 9-inning game format for its 162-game 2022 season.
Will baseball games ever run shorter?
Major League Baseball has always been on its toes trying to cut down on game time. In this fast-paced era, not too many people are willing or have the luxury of time to watch lengthy baseball games.
Besides limiting pitcher substitutions and adding an automatic base runner in extra innings, MLB is looking into using a pitch clock to control the pitching timeframe. These combined measures just might see shorter baseball matches in the future.
Baseball is the only major team sport that does not run on a clock as basketball or football games do. Barring overtime, basketball and football games are divided into 12-minute and 15-minute quarters, respectively.
Baseball games, on the other hand, consist of either seven or nine innings, each of which does not have an exact time limit.
So, how long does a 7 inning baseball game last on average? You already know that and what causes baseball matches to extend beyond their expected timeframes can help you understand and enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes better.
A powerful swing and the ball is flying across the field, just one hit, and we might never forget the thrill it brings. I do not know about you, but I never do. Every baseball game is the chance to compete with others and cooperate with your teammate. It is among my biggest passions.