Gambling violation by MLB umpire leads to league discipline

MLB Umpire Gambling Violation
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MLB is continuing to discipline league members for violating its gambling rules.

America’s oldest professional sports league has disciplined umpire Pat Hoberg for violating its gambling rules for an unknown infraction. Hoberg, a full-time MLB umpire since 2017, has appealed MLB’s decision and has yet to step on the field this season.  

“During this year’s Spring Training, MLB commenced an investigation regarding a potential violation of MLB’s sports betting policies by umpire Pat Hoberg,’ said the league in a 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.”

The 37-year-old denies wagering on MLB events, which violates the league’s gambling policies. MLB rules permit betting on sports outside of baseball but ban wagering on any type of event in the sport, including youth, high school, and college competitions.

The rules apply to all umpires, officials, players, and employees of MLB and its clubs. MLB also bans league personnel from wagering with illegal bookmakers and operations.

“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 MLB Umpires Association is supporting me in the appeal,” said Hoberg.

Hoberg has garnered respect as an MLB home plate umpire and has been assigned to the World Series. In 2022, he called a perfect game during Game 2 of the World Series.

Gambling issues adding up for MLB

Hoberg’s punishment for violating MLB’s gambling rules comes less than two weeks after the lifetime banishment of former San Diego Padres utility player Tucupita Marcano.

An investigation found that between October 2022 and November 2023, Marcano placed 231 wagers on MLB events. The 24-year-old also wagered on international baseball games.

Marcano wagered more than $150,000 during that span with $87,318 bet on MLB events.

MLB has also suspended four minor leaguers for wagering on MLB games while with their organization’s affiliates. The players include Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, Padres pitcher Jay Groome, Philadelphia Phillies infielder José Rodríguez, and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Saalfrank. All four have received one-year suspensions.

An illegal gambling operation has also found its way to MLB. 

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter of MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani, pled guilty in California federal court on June 4 to one count of bank fraud and one count of filing a false income tax return after allegedly participating in an illegal gambling operation leading him to steal more than $16 million from Ohtani’s bank account. According to a complaint, Mizuhara manipulated Ohtani’s bank account to place roughly 19,000 bets with a bookie.

That same bookie, Matthew Bowyer, also allegedly accepted bets from Atlanta Braves minor league player David Fletcher. The former big leaguer with the Los Angeles Angels, currently being investigated by MLB, allegedly did not place wagers on baseball.

Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in prison. He has a sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 25.