MLB umpire Pat Hoberg reportedly disciplined for gambling violation

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JULY 18:  Homeplate umpire Pat Hoberg #31 pauses the game in the sixth inning between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Truist Park on July 18, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Pat Hoberg was one of the better-regarded umpires in MLB. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This year's wave of MLB gambling scandal has reached the umpire ranks.

MLB umpire Pat Hoberg has been disciplined for a violation of the league's gambling rules, according to The Athletic. Hoberg is reportedly appealing the decision.

The exact nature of Hoberg's violation was unexplained, but MLB said in a statement that it found no evidence that he manipulated games he was working. MLB reportedly began investigating the 37-year-old during spring training this year and removed him from the field during the investigation.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, Hoberg has denied betting on baseball.

MLB's statement, via The Athletic:

“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. 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.”

Hoberg has been calling MLB games since 2014 and became a full-time umpire in 2017. Since then, he has built a reputation as one of the most accurate umpires in the game. He was among the top ball-strike callers on Ump Scorecard's leaderboard last year and received attention for calling a "perfect game" behind the plate in the 2022 World Series.

A well-regarded umpire popping up in a gambling scandal is already damaging for the league, but it's particularly rough at the moment for MLB. The season began with the Ippei Mizuhara-Shohei Ohtani scandal that engulfed league coverage for the better part of a month, and the matter re-emerged last week via a group of players.

San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano was banned for life from MLB after an investigation found he bet on games involving his own team, and four other players — Oakland Athletics reliever Michael Kelly, Padres pitcher Jay Groome, Philadelphia Phillies infielder José Rodríguez and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Saalfrank — were all suspended one year for gambling on baseball.

The matter is by no means isolated to MLB either. The NBA banned Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter for life over a particularly brazen scheme in which the bench player took himself out of games to help his conspirators hit his personal "unders."

Meanwhile, the NFL has been dealing with players gambling in ways they shouldn't for more than a year now, with All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Ridley still the most famous name to feel the sting. The college ranks have been affected as well.

Some of this is a consequence of the increased legality of sports gambling, which leagues have recently embraced with open arms. It's certainly a financial boon for the league's team owners, but athletes have regularly run afoul of the rules.