MLB Disciplines Umpire Pat Hoberg for Violating League Gambling Policy

Sportsbooks/Bookmakers Crime
Edward Scimia

Updated by Edward Scimia

Journalist

Last Updated 17th Jun 2024, 03:20 PM

MLB Disciplines Umpire Pat Hoberg for Violating League Gambling Policy

Home-plate umpire Pat Hoberg is now under investigation for violating MLB gambling policies. (Image: Kirby Lee / Alamy)

Major League Baseball has confirmed that it has disciplined umpire Pat Hoberg for violating the league’s gambling rules, the same regulations that have led several players to face suspensions this season.

MLB acknowledged that it was investigating Hoberg on Friday, after The Athletic asked questions of the league about the umpire.


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Hoberg Regarded as One of MLB’s Top Umps

Hoberg has not umpired a single game this season. However, he had earned a reputation as one of the most accurate and most consistent umpires in the majors over his career.

Hoberg first became a full-time MLB umpire in 2017 after sporadically umpiring games beginning in 2014. The 37-year-old has consistently topped ratings at sites like Umpire Scorecards, which credited Hoberg with a rare perfect game behind the plate in the 2022 World Series.

But umpires are subject to the same MLB gambling rules as players, coaches, and other team personnel. Under Rule 21, anyone who bets on baseball will face a one-year suspension, and anyone who bets on a game in which “the bettor has a duty to perform” will face a lifetime suspension. Those who gamble on other sports through illegal bookmakers can also face punishments, at the commissioner’s discretion.

MLB released a statement acknowledging the investigation, though the league noted that it was limited in what it could say about the situation at the moment.

“During this year’s Spring Training, Major League Baseball commenced an investigation regarding a potential violation of MLB’s sports betting policies by Umpire Pay Hoberg,” the statement reads. “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.”

Any appeal will be heard by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. The exact nature of Hoberg’s discipline has not been released to the public.

Gambling Violations Piling Up for Players, Officials

While gambling-related suspensions and bans are uncommon among players, even today, such punishments for game officials are remarkably rare. The last American official caught betting on games was NB referee Tim Donaghy, who was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and other charges after he admitted to betting on NBA games for four years as well as passing picks along to other bettors.

Major League Baseball has faced a surge in gambling-related scandals this year. That began around the start of the regular season, when former Shohei Ohtani interpreter Ippei Mizuhara admitted he had stolen funds from one of Ohtani’s accounts to pay off debts to an unlicensed bookmaker. Mizuhara has since pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and tax fraud after being accused of stealing more than $16 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers star, and could face up to 33 years in prison when sentenced.

On June 4, San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano was hit with a lifetime ban after a regulated sportsbook told MLB that the player had bet on Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was on the roster. 

MLB also hit four other players, including Oakland Athletics reliever Michael Kelly and three minor leaguers, with one-year suspensions for betting on games that did not involve their own teams.

Meet The Author

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Edward Scimia
Edward Scimia
Journalist Journalist

Ed Scimia is a freelance writer who has been covering the gaming industry since 2008. He graduated from Syracuse University in 2003 with degrees in Magazine Journalism and Political Science. In his time as a freelancer, Ed has worked for About.com, Gambling.com, and Covers.com, among other sites. He has also authored multiple books and enjoys curling competitively, which has led to him creating curling-related content for his YouTube channel "Chess on Ice."

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