In recent years, Major League Baseball has rolled out a number of changes to address some of the more glaring issues with the current state of the game.
That includes some adjustments that were instituted prior to the start of the 2023 season, none of which have managed to attract more attention than the pitch clock that was introduced in the hopes of speeding up the general pace of play.
The immediate impact has been a bit hard to ignore, as the length of the average MLB game has already dropped by around 30 minutes and baserunners have taken advantage of the new countdown to try to gain an edge while attempting to steal at an increased frequency.
Only time will tell if the pitch clock will have a dramatic impact on viewership, although it’s hard to imagine more casual fans who’ve previously been dissuaded by the idea of having devoted more than three hours of their life to watching baseball each day over the course of a 162-game season will now have less incentive to tune in on a regular basis.
That’s especially true if more games follow the blueprint of the contest between the Marlins and the Twins on April 4th, which was an incredibly swift affair that took a grand total of one hour and 57 minutes to complete once the first pitch was thrown.
It’s safe to assume we’ll see more showdowns clock in under the two-hour mark going forward—although teams will have some work cut out for them if they want to break the record for the quickest MLB game ever played.
What’s the shortest MLB game ever played?
When you consider baseball was invented all the way back in 1846, inordinately long games are a fairly recent issue that was undoubtedly exacerbated by the rise of television and the urge to milk as much ad revenue as possible out of every contest.
There was once a time when baseball players and teams were more than happy to get through nine innings as quickly as possible.
The shortest professional baseball game ever played—a minor league showdown between the Asheville Tourists and the Winston-Salem Twins in 1916—reportedly took a whopping 31 minutes to complete.
Three years later, the Giants and the Phillies set an MLB record that remains to be bested, as the two squads only needed 51 minutes to decide the contest that was played at Polo Grounds on September 28, 1919.
It’s very, very hard to imagine we’ll ever see another Major League Baseball game finish in less than an hour. However, if you’re curious about the unofficial “modern” record, it’s tough to top what unfolded when the White Sox hosted the Mariners on April 16, 2005 for a matinee that lasted one hour and thirty-nine minutes.
For the sake of comparison, the average MLB game has lasted for three hours or longer since the 2016 season.
It’s a virtual certainty that will no longer be the case once the 2023 campaign wraps up, but the pitch clock probably won’t lead to teams sniffing the record for the shortest MLB game of all time.