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A quick history of shortened baseball seasons

A strike, the flu and two world wars are some of the reasons MLB seasons have been fewer than 162 games

ST. LOUIS — There are only 60 games this MLB season and 16 teams will make the playoffs. But this isn’t the first time baseball has had to make some major changes to the season.

Here’s a quick history of seasons that had fewer than 162 games and the reasons why.


Chicago businessman William Hulbert created the National League. The first season had eight teams with only 70 games. The St. Louis Brown Stockings were part of the original eight. It wasn’t until 1901 when the American League was created.

We saw our first World Series by 1903. There were between 140-160 games in a season by then.


The U.S. was fighting in World War I and fighting the Spanish Flu. The baseball season was cut about three weeks short, but they still got in 154 games.


After the Pearl Harbor attack, the baseball commissioner wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt asking if it was appropriate to even have a season. His response became known as the “Green Light Letter.” Roosevelt not only gave the “green light”, he gave this famous reply.

“I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.

“And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.

“Here is another way of looking at it – if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of their fellow citizens – and that in my judgement is thoroughly worthwhile.”

The seasons during World War II not only led to opportunities for women to play, but it increased the popularity of the Negro Leagues. After the war, the Brooklyn Dodgers sought out Black players, and in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.


Baseball continued with regular-length seasons until the famous strike in the mid-1990s. The 1994 seasons only had 113 games and there were 144 in 1995. That era is known as the most embarrassing time in baseball.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season this year will only be 60 games.

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