MLB disciplines top-rated umpire Pat Hoberg for violating gambling policy; Hoberg appealing

MLB disciplines top-rated umpire Pat Hoberg for violating gambling policy; Hoberg appealing

Pat Hoberg, arguably the most accurate umpire calling balls and strikes in Major League Baseball, has been removed from the field by the league for violating its gambling policy, MLB confirmed.

Hoberg, 37, consistently ranks atop ump evaluations by Umpire Scorecards, and famously called a “perfect game” during the 2022 World Series. But he has not worked a game this season and came under scrutiny by the league for activity that runs afoul of the league’s gambling policy.

MLB said in a statement that Hoberg’s alleged gambling activities did not impact games he worked.

“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,” MLB said in a statement to news outlets, including USA TODAY Sports. “Mr. Hoberg was removed from the field during the pendency of that investigation. 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.”

The Athletic first reported that MLB had disciplined Hoberg, who released a statement via the Major League Baseball Umpires Association, which is appealing the suspension on his behalf.

“I am appealing Major League Baseball’s determination that I should be disciplined for violating the sports betting policies,” says Hoberg, a Des Moines, Iowa, native. “While that appeal is pending, it would not be appropriate to discuss the case. 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.’’

MLB recently levied a lifetime suspension on infielder Tucupita Marcano for gambling on games that involved his team, then the Pittsburgh Pirates, and suspended five other players — four with major league service time — for gambling on baseball. MLB’s Rule 21 also forbids players, umpires and league employees from placing bets on any sport with an illegal bookmaker.

Hoberg’s discipline and the suspension of players comes as the league wrestles with the easy access to gambling for its athletes and officials in the wake of a 2018 Supreme Court decision that paved the way for legalized sports gambling. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting.

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