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In rare cases, baseball games are forfeited, usually in the event when a team is no longer able to play. In the event of forfeiture, the score is recorded with the forfeiting team scoring no runs; their opponents are credited with the same number of runs as innings scheduled. Thus, a forfeited professional baseball game score will be 9-0; most amateur leagues play seven-inning games, thus forfeits are recorded as 7-0. However, if a forfeit occurs in the middle of an official game in which the forfeiting team is losing, the score will be recorded as it stands at the point of forfeit.

In Major League Baseball, forfeits generally occur only when fans disrupt the game to a point where the stadium staff cannot control them, at which point the home team is forced to forfeit. Forfeits were more common in the early days of baseball (there were five forfeits in the National League in 1886). Game 2 of the 1885 World Series was forfeited when one team pulled out of a game as a protest. Game 7 of the 1934 World Series was in jeopardy of being forfeited when the Detroit fans began showering the outfield with debris. The potential black eye to the Series was averted by the Commissioner ordering the Cardinals left fielder to be replaced in the one-sided game. Forfeits have become extremely rare in recent years. There was a spate of them in the 1970s, when the last prior forfeit had occurred in 1954.

In theory, other sports also allow forfeits. In gridiron football, a forfeiture occurs when a team cannot field the bare minimum of seven players (the number legally required to man a line of scrimmage) at or during game time, as a result of a palpably unfair act, or (most commonly) as a result of punitive retroactive sanctions against a team from a governing body such as the NCAA. In high school football, forfeits are registered as 1-0 scores unless the team not forfeiting is in the lead at the time; at all other levels, forfeits result in a 2-0 score unless the team not forfeiting is in the lead. The National Football League rulebook has a provision for forfeiture, but has never used it (though there was at least one "forfeit" in the 1921 NFL season, because league schedules were so fluid in the 1920s, the league now considers it a cancellation, which was very common at the time); it was briefly discussed as a potential punishment during Spygate but never implemented. The NCAA also uses punitive forfeiture in other sports.

MLB forfeits since 1970

  • At the Washington Senators' final game at RFK Stadium against the New York Yankees on September 30, 1971, with the home team leading 7-5 and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, fans angered by the team's impending move (to Dallas-Fort Worth, where the Senators were to become the Texas Rangers in 1972) stormed the field and vandalized the stadium.[1]
  • Ten Cent Beer Night: A promotion held by the Cleveland Indians on June 4, 1974 backfired when intoxicated Cleveland fans jumped onto the field and attacked Texas Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs. This led to a riot in which the drunken and rowdy fans, armed with an array of debris (including chunks of the stadium seating), brawled with players from both teams as well as with staff members. Umpires declared a forfeit win by Texas.
  • The next forfeiture in Major League Baseball took place during the September 15, 1977 game between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Orioles manager Earl Weaver claimed a tarp being used on the bullpen mound at Exhibition Stadium endangered his players. He was ejected for his protests, and responded by pulling his team off the field. Therefore the Orioles forfeited the game to the Blue Jays.
  • On August 10, 1995, the St. Louis Cardinals were visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers, and leading the game 2-1 as the Dodgers came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Dodgers had given away thousands of baseballs to fans coming to the game as a promotion. The first batter, Raúl Mondesí, was called out on strikes and then ejected by home plate umpire Jim Quick for arguing, as was Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda immediately after. The crowd became agitated, and soon Dodger fans began throwing baseballs onto the field of play. Because of this dangerous situation for the visiting team, the Cardinals left the field and the baseballs were removed, but when the fans started throwing balls again after the Cardinals came back onto the field, the umpires forfeited the game to St. Louis. Baseball giveaways at ballparks now are normally conducted when the fans exit the ballpark.


  1. ^ Leventhal, Josh (2000). Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. ISBN 1-57912-112-8.  

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