Major League Baseball games last nine innings and takes an average of A LITTLE OVER three hours to complete. Minor league and collegiate baseball also last nine innings, AND ARE GENERALLY SHORTER IN TIME DURATION. High school and Babe Ruth baseball games are played for seven innings, Little League baseball is played for six innings, and Tee-Ball is played for five innings.
How Long is a Baseball Inning?
A baseball inning lasts for a total of six outs, three per team. Innings are broken into two halves. The away team bats during the "top" half of the inning and the home team bats during the "bottom" half.
This rule doesn't change throughout all baseball levels—except for Tee-Ball, which doesn't count outs and requires that every player on a team get an at-bat in each inning.
It's possible that half an inning could take only three pitches for three quick outs. However, there is no definitive time limit. The exact duration depends on the number of at-bats, the pitcher's pace, and the number of pitching changes. Theoretically, an inning could go on forever if the fielding team fails to record three outs.
How Long Major League Baseball Games Last—And Why
However, the number of innings played in a game and exact length of a game depend on several factors.
If a MLB game remains tied at the end of nine innings, the teams play extra innings until one team has more runs than the other at the end of an inning. In 2020, a runner was placed at second base prior to each inning in order to facilitate a faster outcome and save a team's pitching staff from playing 15+ inning games. The longest game in 2020 was 13.0 innings compared to 23 games the previous season that took 14-or-more innings to complete.
On the reverse side, a game can end after 8.5 innings if the home team is leading at the end of the top half of the ninth inning.
It's also possible for an MLB game to end after five innings if there's inclement weather.
The precise time it takes to complete a game, in terms of hours and minutes, varies from game to game. Pitchers who take more time between pitches increase the length of a game as does the length between innings, which varies from 1:55 to 2:55 in the Postseason due to television requirements.
A high number of base runners also drive up a game's duration, because most pitchers take extra time between pitches with runners on base.
Also, games with several pitching changes or replay challenges take longer due to extended pauses in play.
In 2015, MLB promulgated rules to shorten games—it had been common for rival teams to play for more than four hours. There's now a timer that tracks the time between innings, mound visits by coaches and catchers and the time between hitters and pitch clocks are being tested in the minor leagues, limiting the time between pitches to 20 seconds when the bases are empty.
In 2020, during the COVID pandemic, Major League Baseball Players reported for training on July 1 2020, leading up to a 60-game regular-season schedule that began on July 23rd and 24th.
These rules don't apply to all levels of baseball. Other factors contribute to the length of a baseball game.
How Long is a Minor League Baseball Game?
Minor league baseball, which includes AAA, AA and several other professional leagues, follows the same inning rules as MLB. AAA and AA leagues have instituted the 20-second pitch clock, which has shortened games by 12 minutes. Doubleheaders are 7.0 innings in length in the minors.
How Long is a Collegiate Baseball Game?
Collegiate games also last for nine innings. However, one or both games of a doubleheader can be played for seven innings under certain circumstances. A mercy rule takes effect and the game is concluded if a team is up by 10 or more runs after seven innings—or five innings in seven-inning games.
How Long is a High School Baseball Game?
High school baseball games last seven innings. If there's inclement weather, an official game can be played in four innings. Since some high school fields don't have lights, darkness can become an issue, and play can be resumed later. If a team is ahead by 10 runs after four innings, a mercy rule goes into effect.
How Long is a Youth Baseball Game?
The duration of youth baseball games depends on the level of play.
- Tee-Ball (ages 4-7) is played for five innings; however the number of innings is often determined by the allotted time for the game, which varies from league to league.
- Little League (ages 7-13) games have six innings.
- Babe Ruth League (ages 13-18) games have seven innings