Has An MLB Season Ever Been Cancelled?
If you happen to know that the MLB was founded in 1869, you probably figured that at some point in those 150+ years something had to have gone awry. But, unsurprisingly, the Major League Baseball is not prone to cancelling its seasons–though quite the pretty handful have been disrupted in the past. We’ll get into disruptions to the MLB, but let’s first tackle whether or not an MLB season has ever been cancelled in the first place.
In terms of logistics, it’s actually incredibly hard to straight up cancel an MLB season. That’s because baseball season lasts for 6 months, wherein over 2,400 games are played in total. Plus, there’s the postseason to consider as well. That also means individual games get cancelled and subsequently moved around pretty often. Especially because baseball games can get rescheduled or delayed over weather conditions–commonly rain. That leads to doubleheaders, which used to be quite common during the very early decades of the MLB.
Oh, there was also that time a Red/Giants game was delayed because of bees. More than once…
The Closest Cancellation
So, given that there are over 2,000 baseball games in a single season, you’d be right to assume a baseball season has never just up and decided it wasn’t going to happen. The arrival of COVID-19 and the generally poor US response to it have essentially ground sports to a halt. But don’t fear baseball enthusiasts, because literally as we were writing this post this came out.
The current proposition is a 60 or 70 game season (the MLB and the MLBPA are negotiating it right now) with larger active player rosters per team.
List of MLB Interruptions
Knowing that the MLB started in the 1800s, you’ve probably noticed that the MLB has existed during both World Wars. Yes, neither war stopped the MLB entirely.
Here’s a list of years the MLB has been shifted from regular operations.
No World Series was played because then New York Giants owner John T. Brush was mad the Highlanders were put in Gotham by the American League. So he didn’t let the Giants play the Highlanders in the World Series. The Highlanders would eventually become the Yankees.
Baseball rosters got kind of kneecapped by conscription during World War I. Thus, the 1918 season had to end in early September. The season had already been scaled back to a 140 game season (opposed to the then 154), though it ended up being in the 120 game ballpark for most teams.
Sporting events were cancelled on June 6, 1944 because of D-Day. For the MLB, two games were scheduled and there thus moved.
1972 marks the first time MLB players held a strike against the organization. It lasted 13 days, forcing one week’s worth of games to be cancelled (about 80), and the season’s start to be delayed. MLB players got a $500,000 boost to the pension fund as well as salary arbitration.
Another strike was held this season, over free agent compensation. This strike was held smack dab in the middle of the season, for 50 days. Over 700 games were kicked out the window as a result.
MLB players strike again for two days over their pensions and salaries. The MLB probably didn’t want another 1981, so they increased minimum salaries and grew pensions pretty quickly. Nice.
The Loma Prieto Earthquake cancels the 3rd World Series game right before it started, and the rest of the Series was delayed for a bit.
Players are locked out of spring training for a month, which ends once additional pension payments are agreed to–as well as an increase to minimum salaries and arbitration structure changes. The season played in full, but was delayed.
The entire 1994 World Series was thrown out this time, with a 232 day strike. It also knocked out over 900 games. Because the MLB wanted to institute a salary cap on players, they walked out in August and the remainder of the season had to be canned. The strike bled into 1995, causing it to be delayed with a 144 game season. An agreement wouldn’t be reached until 1997–baseball was directed to continue under a court order.
MLB games are delayed for a week in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
The MLB opening series is cancelled due to the US invasion of Iraq. The opening series games were supposed to occur overseas, but were eventually rescheduled to be played in state
COVID-19 brings all the sports to a halt.
Why not name the MLB teams here?