What is the longest baseball game ever? While Major League Baseball continues to look for new ways to reduce game time, there’s nothing fans in the ballpark love more than free baseball. From the World Series and MLB Playoffs to the archives of MLB history, some of the longest games ever took things to the extreme.
There is no simple answer to the question of how long is an MLB game? Baseball is played without a clock. If both pitchers go three up and three down, the inning may only last a few moments. If both teams pile up the runs, it can go much longer. The longest MLB inning occurred on May 8, 2004 when the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers combined for 18 runs in the 5th inning that lasted 68 minutes.
We’ll dive deep into the record books, looking at the longest baseball game ever during the MLB season, the MLB postseason, and even college baseball.
These are the longest MLB postseason games ever, including Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Guardians and Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners in the 2022 MLB Playoffs.
The longest baseball game in MLB playoff history
While baseball’s longest game ever and its closest challengers go back decades, things are much different in October. Many baseball fans will remember the longest MLB playoff game ever as it happened in 2014.
On October 4, the Washington Nationals hosted the San Francisco Giants in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. Washington held a 1-0 lead until the 9th inning, with Pablo Sandoval’s RBI double tying the game. Both teams were scoreless until the 18th inning. After 6 hours, Brandon Belt opened a 3-2 field in the stands. Hunter Strickland made the save and San Francisco was celebrating its second game victory after 6 hours and 23 minutes of baseball.
Longest MLB Postseason Games Ever
- Houston Astros 7, Atlanta Braves 6 October 9, 2005 – 18 innings, 5 hours 50 minutes
- New York Mets 7, Houston Astros 6 October 15, 1986 – 16 innings, 4 hours 42 minutes
- New York Mets 4, Atlanta Braves 3 October 17, 1999 – 15 innings, 5 hours, 46 minutes
- New York Yankees 7, Seattle Mariners 5 October 4, 1995 – 15 innings, 5 hours, 12 minutes
- Texas Rangers 6, Toronto Blue Jays 4 October 9, 2015 – 14 innings, 4 hours 57 minutes
- Cleveland Guardians 1, Tampa Bay Rays 0 October 8, 2022 – 15 innings, 4 hours and 57 minutes
- Houston Astros vs Seattle Mariners October 15, 2022 – 16+ innings and counting
Houston Astros vs Seattle Mariners
The 2022 MLB Playoffs have now delivered two of baseball’s longest playoff games ever. Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners went 15 straight scoreless innings. During that 15-inning stretch, the Astros and Mariners combined for 37 hits and 14 combined hits with just three walks. It became the first MLB playoff game to go 15 scoreless innings.
Tampa Bay Rays vs Cleveland Guardians
Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians will go down as one of the longest MLB playoff games ever. He also earned his spot in history by becoming the first postseason game to go scoreless through the first 14 innings.
Guardians outfielder Oscar Gonzale’s 15th-inning walk prevented this from becoming the longest playoff game ever. However, the streak that sent Cleveland to the American League Division Series officially ended things with a game time of 4 hours and 57 minutes.
Longest MLB Game in 2022
The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians played the longest MLB game of 2022 on September 17. The game lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes over 15 innings, with Cleveland eventually winning after Austin Hedges scored on a fielding error at first base. Unbelievably, it was on the day of a doubleheader between the two clubs. Just a few hours earlier, the Guardians beat Minnesota 5-1 in a game that lasted 2 hours and 32 minutes. Combined, the Twins vs. Guardians doubleheader on Sept. 17 has lasted 7 hours, 56 minutes with 25 innings of baseball played.
The length of an MLB game in 2022
In recent years, Major League Baseball has placed an emphasis on speeding up games. There is still a lot of work to be done with pitch clocks, less pitching changes and more road adaptations going forward. For now, there appear to be some signs of progress, according to Baseball-Reference.
Average length of MLB games by year
- 2022: 3 hours, 3 minutes
- 2021: 3 hours, 11 minutes
- 2020: 3 hours, 6 minutes
- 2019: 3 hours, 10 minutes
- 2018: 3 hours, 4 minutes
- 2017: 3 hours, 8 minutes
- 2016: 3 hours, 4 minutes
MLB’s goal is to reduce the average length of games to less than three hours. It’s likely to take years, but it’s doable considering the average game length was under three hours back in 2011.
While MLB’s new game-shortening rules don’t go into effect until 2023, smaller changes and an emphasis on speeding up the pace of games have had an impact. The average MLB game in 2022 lasted 3 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, significantly less than the 2021 average and an improvement over the average game time dating back to 2016.
As for the longest MLB game ever, more on that below.
What is the longest MLB game ever?
1. Brooklyn Robins 1, Boston Braves 1 May 1, 1920 – 26 innings
It should come as no surprise that the longest MLB game ever took place decades ago. The record goes back to May 1, 1920, a meeting between the Brooklyn Robins and the Boston Braves. On that historic date, neither team could do much.
Brooklyn jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 5th inning, thanks to a leadoff walk that turned into a runner in the second with one out after a botched double play. Moments later, Ivy Olson laced an RBI single for the game’s first run. An RBI single in the bottom of the 6th inning tied the game, which would be the last runs scored in the game to begin the day.
Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger both pitched a 26-inning game and likely could have returned for the 27th inning. When the night sky arrived at Braves Field, darkness halted a 20-inning scoreless streak.
2. Chicago White Sox 7, Milwaukee Brewers 6 May 8, 1984 – 25 innings
There is a tie for the second-longest game in MLB history, and both took place just a decade apart. The Chicago White Sox faced the Milwaukee Brewers in a game early in the 1984 season. Both teams were tied 3-3 after 18 innings as the clock struck 1 am. The game was postponed, resumed the next day and both teams played 3 runs in the 21st inning. Finally, going 25 sealed the longest baseball game ever (duration) at 8 hours and 6 minutes.
3. St. Louis Cardinals 4, New York Mets 3 September 11, 1974 – 25 innings
When examining the contenders for the longest baseball game ever, you’ll notice a trend. In this meeting on September 11 between St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets, both teams went 14 scoreless innings. This 1974 night game began Wednesday night at Shea Stadium and ended at 3:13 a.m. ET on Thursday, a 7-hour pitcher’s doubleheader that is recognized as the longest MLB game ever without a delay or delay.
4. Houston Astros 1, New York Mets 0 April 15, 1968 – 24 innings
In what can only be described as the two best pitching performances by MLB teams in the same game, the Mets and Houston Astros went 23 scoreless innings. Tom Seaver (10 innings, 2 hits) and Don Wilson (9 innings, 5 hits) pitched gems and both starters had hours to ride the bench after being pulled before this game mercifully ended on an RBI groundout that passed under the legs of the infielder. When the lone run came home, the game ended in 6 hours and 6 minutes.
5. Detroit Tigers 1, Philadelphia Athletics 1 July 21, 1945 – 24 innings
We have to give credit to the Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics. Even though a 24 inning game is grueling, they somehow got through it in less than 5 hours. Tigers starting pitcher Les Mueller covered 19.2 innings, allowing one unearned run. On the other hand, Russ Christopher (13 innings) and Joe Berry (11 innings) shared the work for Philadelphia.
6. Philadelphia Athletics 4, Boston Americans 1 September 1, 1906 – 24 innings
Incredibly, according to MLB.com, Athletics manager Connie Mack captained two of the longest MLB games ever. The A’s opened the scoring in the 3rd inning, then went scoreless for 21 innings. However, they still won.
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Heading into the 2022 MLB season, there were only eight Major League games that went 23-plus innings. During that same span, nine games were completed after reaching the 22-inning milestone.
Longest baseball game ever – 9 innings
- New York Yankees 14, Boston Red Sox 11 August 18, 2006 – 4 hours, 45 minutes
- Arizona Diamondbacks 10, Colorado Rockies 9 June 24, 2016 – 4 hours, 30 minutes
What is the longest World Series game ever?
The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers provided many memorable moments in the 2018 World Series. One night everyone remembers is October 26, when the Red Sox and Dodgers played the longest baseball game ever in World Series history.
Tied 1-1 in extras, Eduardo Nunez’s RBI single broke the tie in the 13th inning. However, Yasiel Puig stole Boston’s hope with a two-RBI single off Nathan Eovaldi in the bottom of the frame. In the 15th, everyone at Dodger Stadium thought Max Muncy had hit a blast on the walk, but it was a foul. Muncy got his second chance, sending the baseball just over the wall to end it after 7 hours and 20 minutes. Thank God this game was played in California and not on the East Coast.
Longest Baseball Game Ever – World Series History
- Kansas City Royals 5, New York Mets 4 October 27, 2015 – 14 innings, 5 hours, 9 minutes
- Chicago White Sox 7, Houston Astros 5 October 25, 2005 – 14 innings, 5 hours, 41 minutes
The longest college baseball game ever
The longest college baseball game ever took place recently. On May 30, 2009, the Texas Longhorns defeated the Boston College Eagles 3-2. It lasted 7 hours and 3 minutes over 25 innings, setting the NCAA record for the longest baseball game ever in duration and innings.
These remain the longest college baseball games ever.
- College of Charleston 3, William & Mary 2 May 16, 2014 – 23 innings, 6 hours, 3 minutes
- UL Lafayette 6, McNeese State 5 March 27, 1971 – 23 innings, length unknown
- TCU 3, Sam Houston State 2 May 31, 2014 – 22 innings, 6 hours, 54 minutes
- Fresno State 3, San Diego 2 March 26, 2011 – 22 innings, 7 hours, 12 minutes
What is the longest streak in MLB history?
Ironically, the player responsible for ending one of the longest playoff games ever is also credited with the longest at-bat ever. Brandon Belt saw 21 pitches by Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018. The ordeal lasted 13 minutes, with Belt and Barria going back and forth thanks to countless fouls. Finally, he flew out to right field for the out.