MLB Umpire Investigated in Betting Scandal


Ten days after it banned a player for life and punished four others for a year for gambling, Major League Baseball said that it has disciplined umpire Pat Hoberg for breaking its gambling regulations.

Hoberg has denied wagering on baseball, according to ESPN sources, and is contesting the sanction. Hoberg hasn't officiated a game this season; the precise nature of the punishment is unknown. MLB did not say in a statement whether Hoberg's betting on baseball was revealed by MLB's inquiry into him.

"During this year's Spring Training, Major League Baseball commenced an investigation regarding a potential violation of MLB's sports betting policies by Umpire Pat Hoberg. Mr. Hoberg was removed from the field during the pendency of that investigation," the league said in a written statement. "While MLB's investigation did not find any evidence that games worked by Mr. Hoberg were compromised or manipulated in any way, MLB determined that discipline was warranted. Mr. Hoberg has chosen to appeal that determination. Therefore, we cannot comment further until the appeal process is concluded."

"I am appealing Major League Baseball's determination that I should be disciplined for violating the sports betting policies. While that appeal is pending, it would not be appropriate to discuss the case," Hoberg said in a statement. "That said, I have devoted my adult life to the profession of umpiring, and the integrity of baseball is of the utmost importance to me. I look forward to the appeal process, and I am grateful that the Major League Baseball Umpires Association is supporting me in the appeal.''

Hoberg would have violated MLB Rule 21 if it were discovered that he had placed a wager on a baseball game. This rule punishes bettors who place wagers on games in which they are engaged with a lifetime ban and those who do not with a yearlong penalty.

NBA referee Tim Donaghy was the last significant American professional sports official to be known to wager on games. In 2007, he was found guilty of conspiring to commit wire fraud and distributing betting information over interstate commerce, and as a result, he was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Donaghy acknowledged that he advised gamblers and placed wagers on sports spanning four seasons.

Hoberg is one of the highest-regarded umpires in the sport. He finished the 2023 season as the No. 2 ranked umpire according to Ump Scorecards.

Hoberg called a "perfect game" in the 2022 World Series, the first such game in more than 18,000 games tracked by Ump Scorecards.

In 2014, Hoberg officiated his first major league game. He joined the league full-time in 2017. From 2018 to 2022, he officiated postseason games annually. In 2023, he was assigned to World Baseball Classic pool games.

On June 4, the MLB banned Tucupita Marcano, an infielder with the San Diego Padres, after learning from a sportsbook that he had placed wagers on games while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After placing wagers totaling more than $150,000 in October 2022 and July through November 2023, Marcano, 24, was handed a lifetime ban, according to MLB.

Three minor league players—Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank, Padres starter Jay Groome, and Phillies infielder Jose Rodriguez—as well as Oakland Athletics reliever Michael Kelly were all given one-year suspensions for wagering on major league games while in the minor leagues. Everybody bet less than $1,000.

"The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball's rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said. "The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people."


“MLB disciplines umpire Pat Hoberg for violating gambling rules” , Jeff Passan,, June 14, 2014.


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