MLB investigates umpire Pat Hoberg for violating gambling rules: reports

MLB investigates umpire Pat Hoberg for violating gambling rules: reports
MLB investigates umpire Pat Hoberg for violating gambling rules: reports

When the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that effectively banned commercial sports betting in most states, the floodgates opened. Within five years of the landmark 2018 ruling, teams, athletes, and several sports leagues across the country were supporting legal sportsbooks.

And while the leagues’ anti-gambling laws remained strict for their own personnel, there was an explosion of new opportunities for anyone who crossed those lines.

This also includes referees.

With that in mind, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the latest case of out-of-control sports betting came to light: Major League umpire Pat Hoberg is now facing disciplinary action for violating MLB betting rules.

The Athletic, which first reported the news on Friday afternoon, notes that Hoberg has appealed the decision. The 37-year-old referee has been conspicuously absent from all on-field duties this season.

“During this year’s Spring Training, Major League Baseball opened an investigation regarding a possible violation of MLB’s sports betting policies by umpire Pat Hoberg,” MLB said in a statement published by The Athletic. “Mr. Hoberg was removed from the field during the duration of this investigation. Although MLB’s investigation found no evidence that games manipulated by Mr. Hoberg were compromised or rigged in any way, MLB determined that disciplinary action was warranted. Mr. Hoberg has decided to appeal this decision, so we cannot comment further until the appeals process is complete.”

Hoberg has received high marks for his work as an umpire. He has been scheduled to work the 2022 World Series. He even received a perfect score from the website, an extremely rare feat, for his strike zone in Game 2 of the series:

It is rare, but not unheard of, for an umpire to be suspended by MLB. Typically, such suspensions are issued due to interactions with players, managers or other uniformed personnel on the field. This would be the first suspension of an umpire for gambling since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision.

Unfortunately, gambling-related controversies are not uncommon for the MLB this year either.

MLB Pat Hoberg
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JUNE 23: Umpire Pat Hoberg looks on during a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 23, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland….

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

On June 4, San Diego Padres all-rounder Tucupita Marcano was placed on MLB’s permanently suspended list for placing legal bets on baseball games between 2022-23. Four other minor league players were suspended for one year for placing bets on baseball.

Read more: MLB permanently bans San Diego Padres all-rounder for betting on baseball

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired in March when it was revealed that he had stolen millions from Ohtani to cover his own sports betting losses at an illegal bookmaker. Mizuhara recently pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the theft, and Ohtani was acquitted by an MLB investigation into the withdrawals Mizuhara made directly from Ohtani’s bank account.

Read more: Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter allegedly stole more than $16 million from Dodgers star: Justice Department investigation

Much remains unknown about Hoberg’s case, including what he allegedly bet, when and how much. MLB umpires are subject to the same rule (Rule 21) that governs players’ gambling and have the right to appeal any potential disciplinary action.

In the meantime, the implications for a league whose ties to the gambling industry have intensified in recent years continue to be closely scrutinized.