How Long Is a Baseball Game? Well, It Depends

Learn how long baseball games take at every age level.

Major League Baseball games last nine innings and take an average of three hours to complete. Minor league and collegiate baseball also last nine innings. 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 levels of baseball—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 pace of the pitcher and 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

Pro Baseball

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.

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 vary from game to game. Pitchers who take more time between pitches increase the length of a game.

A high number of base runners also drives up a game's duration, because most pitchers take extra time between pitches in order to prevent stolen bases.

Also, games with several pitching changes or play 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 2:30 between-innings timer, and pitch clocks are being tested in the minor leagues, limiting the time between pitches to 20 seconds when the bases are empty.

However, 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.

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

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 at a later time. 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

How Long is a Baseball Game?
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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BASEBALL | YOUTH SPORTS | MLB