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Major League Baseball has disciplined umpire Pat Hoberg for violating the league's gambling policy, MLB confirmed to The Athletic. Hoberg denies betting on baseball and is appealing the discipline. He has not umpired a game this season but was active last year.

MLB released the following statement to 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," MLB said in a statement issued to The Athletic. "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."

Umpires are subject to Rule 21, which expressly forbids players and personnel from betting on baseball and being associated with illegal bookmakers. Baseball personnel are allowed to bet on other sports legally. The exact nature of Hoberg's betting activity is unknown. Rule 21 says anyone found to have bet on a game in which they were involved is to be banned from baseball. Other violations come with a range of disciplinary measures. 

"I am appealing Major League Baseball's determination that I should be disciplined for violating the sports betting policies," Hoberg said in a statement (via USA Today). "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.''

Here's what you need to know about Hoberg and MLB's history of gambling penalties.

Hoberg is regarded as a strong umpire

Hoberg, 37, became a professional umpire in 2009 and was promoted to full-time major league umpire in 2017. He is regarded as a very good home plate umpire, so much so that he called a perfect game (i.e. no incorrect ball and strike calls) during Game 2 of the 2022 World Series, according to Umpire Scorecards.

Hoberg worked postseason games every year from 2018-22. He also worked the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

MLB's gambling policy

As noted in the introduction, MLB allows personnel to gamble on sports other than baseball and softball provided that it is legal in their territory. Rule 21 includes two important points. 

The first states: "Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year."

The other, which applies to those who bet on baseball, states: "Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible."

For a player, the phrase "duty to perform" means either the active roster or injured list for the game on which the bet was placed. For an umpire, it means being assigned to the game.

Other MLB gambling scandals

Earlier this month San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano was banned for life after it was found he bet on baseball while with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marcano was on the injured list at the time and did not play in any games he bet on, but because he had a "duty to perform" in those games per Rule 21, he was banned for life.

Padres lefty Jay GroomeOakland Athletics righty Michael KellyArizona Diamondbacks lefty Andrew Saalfrank, and Philadelphia Phillies infielder José Rodriguez were recently given one-year suspensions for betting on baseball games they were not involved in, either as active players or while on the injured list.

Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter, recently pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud charges, and is facing up to 33 years in prison. Mizuhara is accused of stealing roughly $17 million from Ohtani through a series of wire transfers. The money was used to pay Mizuhara's gambling debts, among other things.  

Atlanta Braves minor-leaguer David Fletcher is also being investigated by MLB for placing bets with the same illegal bookmaker that Mizuhara used. Neither Mizuhara nor Fletcher is alleged to have gambled on baseball, but betting on any sport through illegal channels is forbidden by MLB. Earlier this year, CBS Sports delved into more detail on other historical baseball gambling scandals