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7 Hours and 23 Minutes: The Longest Rain Delay in MLB History

Rain Delay in Baseball: Primary Keyword(s) – MLB, game completion, suspension

Baseball is a sport that’s played in an outdoor arena, and like all outdoor sports, it is heavily susceptible to inclement weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, and lightning. Rain is the most commonly encountered inclement weather condition, and while only minor interruptions are caused by light drizzle, when its intensity increases, it can suspend the game entirely.

When the umpire crew chief judges that rain has made the field unsafe, the game is suspended either temporarily or permanently, pending the evaluation of the weather conditions. During such situations, it has become necessary to have rules and regulations that baseball teams, umpires, and fans can all follow to ensure that the players’ safety is upheld while the game is also played to its completion.

Rules for Rain Delay

Rain delays come with a set of rules that are created by the Major League Baseball (MLB) to guide various scenarios encountered with game suspensions. One of the most important rules is to determine whether a game can be regarded to be complete or not.

If the umpire crew chief suspends the game before the first half of the inning, and the home team has not yet taken its bat, the game is to be rescheduled as a postponed game. If the game is suspended in the middle of an inning, it can only be rescheduled if the home team has not yet taken the bat in the bottom of the inning or if it’s a tie game.

If the game is suspended after the fifth inning or if the home team takes the lead in the middle of the fifth inning, the game can be marked complete.

Calling Rain Delay in Baseball

The decision to suspend a game during a rainy condition is solely dependent on the umpire crew chief. While the manager can voice his opinion, the final decision lies with the umpires.

If the situation is such that the weather clears up before a game’s resumption, but the field isn’t fit to play, then the umpires can decide that the game is over.

Duration of Rain Delay

The time to wait during a rain delay is determined by several factors, with the workability of the tarp being one of the most significant factors. The quicker the tarp can be placed and removed, the faster the field’s playable conditions can be achieved.

There are also instances where the rain causes damage to the field, and more time may be required to correct such damages. In this case, the field’s state may be evaluated after every 30 minutes to check for improvements in the weather.

The play can only be reinstated once the field conditions are all good, and the umpire crew chief calls for the continuation of play.

Different Kinds of Weather Delays in Baseball

Rain delay isn’t the only weather condition that can suspend a baseball game. There’s also the lightning delay, thunderstorm delay, fog delay, and snow delay.

A lightning delay occurs when there’s lightning in the area, prompting an immediate evacuation of the field and surrounding areas. After the lightning clears out, play can only be reinstated 30 minutes after the last bolt of lightning is seen.

Thunderstorm delay applies when there’s an impending thunderstorm, and the umpire crew chief has to suspend the game. If the thunderstorm doesn’t materialize after 30 minutes, the game can be resumed.

Fog delay results from heavy fog that impairs the players’ vision, and play suspension occurs. If the game is played in a closed stadium, the game is expected to proceed as usual.

Snow delays have become rare, but when they occur, and the field doesn’t drain well, the game will be suspended until the snow clears out, the field is cleared, or until the weather clears up.

Difference Between Rain Delays and Rainouts

A rain delay entails a temporary suspension of play, while a rainout means that the game has been postponed, rescheduled, or cancelled because of rain. It is only after the umpire crew chief has suspended play due to a weather condition that we can refer to it as a rain delay.

The game’s rescheduling is influenced by various factors, including the availability and scheduling of both teams. If the game has already started, the game’s continuation depends on the number of innings played, with MLB requiring that the game should have been played for at least nine innings (or 8.5 for the home team’s lead) to declare a winner.

If the game hasn’t started, the game is usually rescheduled to play on the next available day that suits both teams’ schedule.

Longest Rain Delay in MLB History

The longest-ever delay in MLB history occurred on July 23, 2019, when the Chicago White Sox game against the Texas Rangers was suspended due to bad weather. The delay stretched out to 7 hours and 23 minutes, with the game only resuming at 2:00 am.

It was the longest delay recorded in the past five years, and although it was a relatively rare occurrence, it just goes to show how much can depend on the weather and the tarp’s adequacies.

Rain Delay Rules

The rules governing baseball rain delays change over time, and in 2020, the MLB created new rules that took into account the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the significant rule changes was that any game halted before being declared official would only recommence if the home team had already batted in the fifth inning.

It aimed to reduce the impact of inclement weather conditions and suspend the games so that the teams can minimize their contacts.

Ratification of Rain Delay Rule

The new rule for rain delay took effect during the 2020 season under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the MLB and the MLB Players Association. It repealed the old rule and made the new COVID-19 provision a fixture in every game until further notice.

It has had a significant impact on the continuation of games during bad weather, and even though it was prompted by the pandemic, it has come to stay as a permanent fixture, making it easier to have uniformity in game planning for teams, umpires, and fans.


Baseball would be incomplete without its fans, and games played with little to no interference remain the most exciting ones. However, rain delays and other inclement weather conditions are part of the game, representing a challenge to teams and umpires alike.

Codifying rules and regulations guide what to do in such situations, and the MLB has been instrumental in ensuring that these rules are followed uniformly throughout the various leagues. Through this, the players’ safety is upheld, while the fans can watch their favorite teams play without worrying about their well-being.


Calling Rain Delay in Baseball: Primary Keyword(s) – heavy rain, postponed, start time pushed back

Baseball games rely heavily on good weather conditions to ensure that play continues without interruption. But unfortunately, this is not always the case.

When heavy rain persists, the manager can call for a rain delay. This is a strategic decision and is meant to protect the players’ safety from being injured due to slippery conditions.

The rules and regulations in such cases require that the game should only be postponed until the weather improves and the field is playable. Rain delays can occur even before the start of the game, causing the start-time to be pushed back to a later time.

Manager’s Decision for Rain Delay

A manager’s decision for a rain delay is purely a strategic one. They weigh the risks of the conditions and decide whether it’s in the team’s best interest to start or wait out the rain.

The decision could vary from waiting for the rain to subside to postponing the game entirely. Managerial decisions during a rain delay are still up to the umpires in charge of the game, which means that even though the decision could be miscalculated, it still has to be consistent with their judgement concerning the filed’s playability.

Examples of Calling Rain Delay

Rain delays can occur at any given moment during a game. A good reference for such moments would be the afternoon storm, which usually occurs during the hottest part of the day.

Lightning and thunderstorm delays caused by these frequent storms could last for hours, causing the managers to hope for clear weather soon. During such moments, the manager’s best decision is to wait for the weather to clear up and only suggest a rain delay if the team’s safety is at risk.

Umpires Decision for Rainouts

Rainouts can happen when heavy rain doesn’t subside, making it impossible to continue with the game. In such situations, the umpires will decide to halt play, and a half-hour of rain delay is given before further evaluation of the game’s playability.

But, if the weather forecast shows no signs of improvement, the umpires will decide to postpone the game to a later date. The rescheduling comes with the option of changing the venue to ensure that play continues.


Different Kinds of Weather Delays in Baseball: Primary Keyword(s) – thunderstorm delays, lightning risk to players, low visibility, lasting delays, rescheduling ongoing snow, postponing, opening day 2007

Apart from rain delays, there are several other weather conditions that can cause interruptions during a baseball game. Baseball has had to face the challenges brought about by different weather conditions, thus necessitating the creation of rules to help address different scenarios.

Lightning Delays

Lightning delays are among the most dangerous weather conditions in baseball games because they pose a significant risk to the players’ safety. It is imperative to halt play and evacuate the stadium until the lighting clears.

Games can only continue 30 minutes after the last lightning strike was seen or heard. The umpires and officials must deliver an all-clear status before the game can continue.

Thunderstorm Delays

Thunderstorm delays force games to be stopped until the surrounding weather conditions become stable again. It is a matter of assessing the length of the delay and whether it’s worth it for teams to continue playing the game after the delay.

The safety of the players is also a priority during this delay, and teams prefer that games only continue after the storm has subsided.

Fog Delays

Fog delays are rare but could prove to be problematic for games. Fog delays occur when there is low visibility, which puts players at risk.

Halting the game is a safety precaution, and if the delay persists, it could lead to a lasting delay with rescheduling to a later date.

Snow Delays

The most common reason for a snow delay is when the snow is blinding and prevents the players from seeing the ball. In 2007 on opening day, baseball teams experienced a significant snow delay, where games had to be postponed for safety reasons.

If the snow is ongoing, teams may choose to reschedule then and there or postpone to a later date depending on scheduling conflicts.


Rain delays are an integral part of baseball games, and no one is immune to weather conditions affecting the game. Managers face tough decisions when inclement weather threatens to disrupt play, from risking the player’s safety to the strategic benefit of waiting out the rain.

The umpires have to provide guidance in evaluating the field’s playability and ensuring the safety of the players, coaches, and fans. Understanding the different weather delays is crucial in getting the best possible outcome for games, and thereby assuring teams and fans gets the best possible experience.


Duration of Rain Delay: Primary Keyword(s) – no fixed wait time, determined by umpire crew chief

Rain delay is an integral part of baseball games, and its duration can range from a few minutes to hours, depending on several factors. The umpire crew chief is responsible for determining when play should stop and when it should resume.

During the delay, the chief is tasked with monitoring the field’s condition, weather forecasts, and the team’s concerns as they wait for the weather conditions to improve. The length of the delay has no fixed wait time and depends on the chief’s judgement and evaluation of the field’s playability.

Umpire Crew Chief Decision for Reinstating Play

The decision to restart play lies exclusively with the umpire crew chief who is in charge of the game. There is no fixed wait time for a rain delay, and the length of the suspension depends on several factors such as the time it takes for the field to drain water, more downpour after the initial delay, and the severity of the weather conditions.

The umpire crew chief exercises discretion when deciding to suspend the game and has to consider the players’ safety and fairness in determining the resumption of play.

Tarp Usage for Rain Delay

Tarps on the infield are used to protect the dirt, hopefully stopping water from seeping in, making the field unplayable. The size and efficacy of the tarp are essential, and teams invest in their weather protection gear to prevent unnecessary delays.

Larger tarps mean that the grounds crew can cover the field quicker, give players more time to avoid the rain, meaning delays are usually shorter. However, during heavy downpours or flooding, the size of the tarp may not matter because the field could remain unplayable for long periods.


Difference Between Rain Delays and Rainouts: Primary Keyword(s) – postponement, continuation, postponement to a later date

In baseball, both rain delays and rainouts are common occurrences that can lead to postponed games. Although they are related to weather conditions, they have different meanings and implications.

Understanding the difference between them is essential in appreciating how baseball responds to such situations and how it impacts the teams.

Definition of Rain Delay

A rain delay is a temporary suspension of play during a baseball game due to inclement weather conditions. The decision to halt the game is made by the umpire crew chief, who is responsible for determining whether it is safe for the game to continue or not.

Rain delays are aimed at ensuring players’ safety and ensuring fair play if the field’s condition is impacting play.

Definition of Rainout

Rainouts, on the other hand, refer to postponing a baseball game because of inclement weather conditions with an intention to play the game at a later date. The rescheduling of the game can be because the rain delay wasn’t enough to make the field playable, or the weather forecast showed no improvement.

Some factors influence the decision to reschedule the game, such as scheduling conflicts and team logistics. A game can only be defined as a rainout if it is not completed at a later date.


Postponement is a common way of managing rain delays or rainouts. The umpire crew chief can postpone the game if the weather is too severe during the game or subsequently reschedule the game if it is not completed.

Rescheduling the game is important to ensure the game is completed in a fair environment, but it can cause scheduling conflicts for both teams.


If the weather subsides during a rain delay, the umpire crew chief may decide to continue with the game. This decision is based on the grounds crew’s ability to clear the field and make it playable or in instances where the rain has stopped.

Resumption of the game after suspension is essential for continuity purposes, but the resumption must be based on the safety of the players and fair play.


Rain delays and rainouts are part and parcel of baseball, and they significantly impact the game’s continuity. Understanding the difference between the two is important for teams, umpires, and fans to minimize confusion and misunderstandings.

Umpire crew chiefs have a significant role in determining when to stop or resume play and when to postpone games. The use of tarps for rain delay purposes, quality of the tarps, and its effectiveness during heavy rain is essential for the grounds crew to make the field playable for continued play.


Longest Rain Delay in MLB History: Primary Keyword(s) – rain duration, waiting options, fan compensation, player frustration

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