When autumn is on the horizon, baseball fans eagerly look toward the World Series, the annual best-of-seven-game series to crown the best team in baseball. Although it's called the World Series, it doesn't involve teams from around the world—just MLB teams, which are only in the U.S. and Canada. That said, the MLB is considered the premier league in the world and attracts many international athletes. In 2023, 28.5% of players on Opening Day rosters represented 19 countries and territories outside of the U.S., per MLB.
Unlike the marathon 162-game regular season, every game matters in the World Series. If a team falls behind, they don't have many opportunities to make up for the losses. MLB reports that there have only been six times in World Series history when a team came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the title.
Fans hang on every pitch and play when a game is do-or-die—and long games make the tension mount. Perseverance is one element of why the World Series is meaningful, according to Psychology Today. When fans and players persevere through long innings, wins can be sweeter—and losses more devastating.
MLB's 2023 introduction of the pitch clock has led to shorter games—on average, games now end 32 minutes earlier than the all-time high in 2021, when they averaged 3 hours and 10 minutes, according to Sports Illustrated. That may mean shorter nights during this year's Fall Classic, making long games like these a relic of the past.
To celebrate the indefatigable spirits of these players and the fans who endured those hours with them, The Game Day compiled a ranking of the longest World Series games in MLB history using data from Baseball Reference. World Series games from 1905 to 2022 were considered.
The average duration of World Series games has nearly doubled from an average of 1 hour and 49 minutes in 1905 to 3 hours and 35 minutes in 2022. But playing time isn't necessarily the reason World Series games are longer—commercials and pitching changes are major culprits. Longer commercial breaks add nine minutes to postseason games, according to The Washington Post. With everything on the line, managers swap out pitchers more frequently if they're not performing. Sports Illustrated found that during the 2021 World Series, teams changed pitchers at least five times in as many games, with each pitching change adding 8 ½ minutes to a game.
- Duration: 4 hours and 51 minutes (12 innings)
- Date: Oct. 21, 2000
- Final score: Yankees beat Mets 4-3
In 2000, New Yorkers got their first Subway Series since the matchup between the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. It kicked off with what was at the time the longest game in World Series history. The Yankees were down 3-2, but tied it up in the 9th on a Chuck Knoblauch sacrifice fly that scored Paul O'Neill a run. The Yankees missed opportunities to score in the 10th and 11th, but got the job done in the 12th on a single by ex-Met José Vizcaíno that brought in the winning run and set the Yankees on the way to a third consecutive World Series title.
- Duration: 5 hours and 9 minutes (14 innings)
- Date: Oct. 27, 2015
- Final score: Royals beat Mets 5-4
The Royals' quest to get over their heartbreaking 2014 World Series loss in seven games to the Giants started off with a bang—in the bottom of the 1st, shortstop Alcides Escobar hit the first pitch for an inside-the-park home run. The Mets took the lead in the 8th on a fielding error by Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, but the Royals tied it up in the bottom of the 9th on a solo home run by Alex Gordon. In the bottom of the 14th, Hosmer atoned for his error by hitting a game-winning sacrifice fly.
- Duration: 5 hours and 17 minutes (10 innings)
- Date: Oct. 29, 2017
- Final score: Astros beat Dodgers 13-12
This slugfest included seven home runs, potentially due to what coaches and pitchers said were slicker balls that made it hard to throw sliders. Although they trailed going into the 9th inning, the Dodgers tied it up on a two-run home run by Yasiel Puig and a RBI single by Chris Taylor, and the Astros' inability to score off a Yuli Gurriel double that sent the already-long game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, the Astros were down to their last out when reliever Kenley Jansen hit Brian McCann with a pitch and walked George Springer. Third baseman Alex Bregman then hit a line drive single into left field to score the winning run.
- Duration: 5 hours and 41 minutes (14 innings)
- Date: Oct. 25, 2005
- Final score: White Sox beat Astros 7-5
The White Sox hadn't won a World Series since 1917—and this game alone was just 15 minutes shorter than the first three games in that 1917 series, according to ESPN. White Sox second-baseman Geoff Blum, who came on as a replacement in the bottom of the 13th, hit a solo home run in the top of the 14th to put the Sox ahead. A bases-loaded walk gave the Sox an insurance run, and the Astros left the tying runs on base in the bottom of the inning to give the Sox the win.
- Duration: 7 hours and 20 minutes (18 innings)
- Date: Oct. 26, 2018
- Final score: Dodgers beat Red Sox 3-2
Boston fans watching at home had to stay up until 3:30 a.m. to watch their team lose this nail-biter of a game. The two teams combined used 18 pitchers—plus Dodgers' pitcher Clayton Kershaw stepped in to pinch hit (he lined out). In the 13th, the Red Sox went ahead by a run thanks to a Dodgers' throwing error, but the Dodgers responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning following a Boston error. The Dodgers finally sealed the victory—their only win of the series—with a lead-off home run by Max Muncy in the 18th.
Data reporting by Karim Noorani. Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Robert Wickwire. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.
This story originally appeared on The Game Day and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.