There are 162 games in a baseball season for each team in Major League Baseball under normal circumstances.
That has been the case since baseball expanded — and expanded the schedule — prior to the 1961 season. That was the summer that Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run record, with Maris smashing number 61 to take the crown on the last day of the season.
Infamously, then-commissioner Ford Frick suggested that Maris’ record be marked with an asterisk since it was attained in more games than the previous 154-game schedule, under which Ruth played in 1927, had allowed.
In the end, there was no asterisk, but plenty of fans still regarded Ruth as the rightful record-holder, much as they do Maris now, even after Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds all surpassed his mark.
That 154-game schedule had been in effect continually since 1920, and through most of baseball history before that point.
A few seasons over the past several decades have seen each team play fewer than 162, due to work stoppages or other world events. Some of those include:
- 1972 – most teams played 154-156 games due to a season-delaying player’s strike
- 1981 – most teams played 105-111 games due to a mid-season player’s strike
- 1994 – most teams played 110-115 games due to a season-ending player’s strike
- 1995 – teams played 144 games due to a delayed Spring Training and season start caused by the lingering 1994 player’s strike
- 2020 – teams played 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed the start of the season until July
Although an owner’s lockout delayed the start of Spring Training for more than a month in 2022 and the beginning of the regular season by more than a week, a full 162-game schedule was eventually put into place through the introduction of double-headers and reduction in off days.