MAY 21 – Don’t Blink

*1943 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – The Chicago White Sox beat the Washington Senators (today’s Minnesota Twins) 1-0, on this date in baseball history. The game took 1 HOUR and 29 MINUTES – the quickest night game in American League history. Sox starter Johnny Humphries beat Senator starter Dutch Leonard.

The National League has the American League beat in the quickest night game category, however. About a year after the above referenced Senators/Sox game, the Boston Braves (today’s Atlanta Braves) beat the Cincinnati Reds 2 to 0 in an hour and fifteen minutes in Cincinnati. And these are just night games.

The times for the quickest day games are startling: 51 minutes in the National League (NY Giants-Philadelphia Phillies September 26, 1919) and 55 minutes in the American (St. Louis Browns-NY Yankees, September 26, 1926).

It’s remarkable that a game could be played in less than an hour and a half. What’s even more amazing is that 13 of the first 26 games the St. Louis Browns (today’s Baltimore Orioles) played in 1943 took less than 2 hours. Only one took more than 3.

The same was pretty much true for the White Sox. By their 26th game, 13 had been under 2 hours. None took more than 3 hours.

There are probably several reasons games are longer now, one is relief pitchers – there are more of them, and complete games by starters – there are fewer of them. In 1943 Chicago White Sox starters completed 70 games. In 2005, Sox starters completed 9, and that was the year they won the World Series.

Commercial breaks add to the length of games. And you can’t ignore the fact that pitchers and hitters do a whole lot of nothin’ between pitches.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
May 21, 1943
BASEBALL ALMANAC

See my Opinion piece, “Why Baseball Needs a Pitch Clock.”