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How long are Baseball Games? (in Real Time)

baseball game length

As with any other professional league sport, Major League Baseball (MLB) has a targeted finish time they’d like to uphold.

When you look at leagues such as the NBA, NFL and NHL, the match lengths are limited by a game clock.

And if these matches require overtime, the same applies for the most part. In the regular season, NHL hockey games go to a shootout if the game is not settled in OT. 

Meanwhile, baseball is a whole other story. Throw the game clock out the window.

And because of that, the average baseball game is almost 30-45 minutes longer in real time than any of these other sports.

So, let’s get to the question you came here for…

How long are Baseball Games?

The standard length of a baseball game today is 2 hours 40 minutes, give or take 30 minutes. The game is dictated by outs, meaning there is no game clock in baseball. Each inning is made up of six outs and teams switch between fielding and batting at every three.  

If the score is tied after 9 innings, the game will continue into extra innings. 

A winner must be declared for every MLB game, regardless of if it’s the regular season or playoffs.

And when extra innings are required, you are looking at game lengths upwards of 4 hours and even beyond.

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Why are Baseball Games so long?

With innings in baseball being dictated by outs, there is no way of controlling the length of a game.

Should the batting team go on a hitting and run streak, the inning alone could end up very long.

Note that the average inning should last 17.5 minutes in length, from top to bottom.

If innings go beyond the average early in the game, don’t be surprised if it lasts over three hours.

Pitch Timer

While a game clock would never make sense in baseball, the MLB has incorporated a pitch timer.

As of the 2023 MLB season, a pitching clock was added to increase the pace of the game.

The rules are simple.

Pitchers have 15 seconds to throw each pitch to the current batter when the bases are empty.

That timer increases to 20 seconds if runners are on base.

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Furthermore, pitchers have up to 30 seconds to throw a pitch between batters.

The batters must adhere to certain rules as well. For example, they have 8-seconds to be in the batter’s box and squared up to the pitcher. 

Should the pitcher violate the clock, they will be charged with a ball on the count. 

Meanwhile, if the batter is in violation, he will be charged with an automatic strike.

For a full breakdown of the Pitch Timer, make sure to check the MLB rules here.

Baseball Game Start/End Times

If you were to ever look at the game calendar for baseball, you’d notice that the start times are all over the place.

There is no consistency such as at the start of the hour (i.e. 7pm) or at the half (i.e. 7:30pm).

Just to give you an idea, I clipped an image at random from the MLB schedule.

mlb schedule

That 7:07pm start gets to me, why not just schedule it for 7pm? Anybody?

In any case, I included some possible start times along with an estimated end time so that you can fully prepare.

If a baseball game starts at _pm what time will it end?

Start TimeEnd Time (+/ 30min)

Final Thoughts

The amount of time you need to reserve for a baseball game depends on whether you plan to attend the event or watch it on television. 

If you plan to attend in person, consider the commute from your current location (i.e. home, work) to the venue.

There is typically a bottleneck at the venue entrance, where everyone gets their tickets scanned.

The walk from the entrance to your seat can add another 5-10 minutes.

Did you consider refreshments along the way? You might be hungry since the game falls right around lunch or dinner time.

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But don’t stress if you arrive past the marked time on the tickets.

First off, the doors are open way beyond the first inning.

Moreover, the first pitch is thrown a little past the ticket time.

The delay is about 7-10 minutes long to allow for the team introduction, lineup and the anthem(s).  

And as we’ve already discussed, the average MLB game length is now slightly less than 3 hours. 

When planning to watch the game on TV, you can wait to flip the channel on after 7-10 minutes past the scheduled start time.

While the TV station puts together an introduction prior to the first pitch, you can always skip it if you want.

Personally, I like to hear what the pundits have to say, even when their analysis is widely absurd. 

Anyway, enjoy the game!