MLB accuses umpire Angel Hernandez of eavesdropping in on 2019 investigation: reports

Embattled MLB umpire Angel Hernandez is accused of eavesdropping in on an investigation into a 2019 delay of game -- an accusation his lawyer claims is in retaliation to a discrimination lawsuit the official filed against the league years earlier, reports say.

During a July 2019 game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Hernandez, who was the acting crew chief, oversaw a 14-minute delay over a dispute regarding MLB’s rules about moving a pitcher to a defensive position, the New York Post reported Monday.

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Special assistant to the commissioner Joe Torre, who served as the chief baseball officer at the time, claimed in MLB filings, obtained by the Post, that Hernandez had listened in on a call interviewing other umpires as a part of an investigation into the incident.

“As you know, members of the Commissioner’s Office interviewed you and then Ed Hickox in back-to-back telephone conversations regarding the July 24 incident,” Torre wrote to Hernandez in an August letter submitted with the filings.“These were purposefully scheduled as separate conversations, both to ensure confidentiality and to avoid the tainting of recollections. At the conclusion of your interview, unknown to anyone else at the time, you remained on the line during Hickox’s interview.”

The letter continued: “You acknowledged that you were aware prior to the calls that they were intended to be separate and did not dispute that you remained on the line. Instead, you offered a number of excuses for why you remained on the line. You claimed to not know whether you were supposed to stay on the line and that you wanted to be available if anything further was asked of you … your purported justification for staying on the line (to address any further questions) strains credulity in light of your claim that you only heard portions of the Hickox call and the fact that you remained silent even when you heard statements by Hickox that you later claimed to be inaccurate.

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“Simply put, we find your asserted justifications for remaining on the line to be implausible, internally inconsistent, premised on facts that are incorrect and not credible. As a result, we have concluded that you remained on the line in an effort to intentionally and deceptively eavesdrop on a confidential conversation in order to hear what Hickox would say about the July 24 incident. This is an egregious offense.”

But Hernandez’s lawyer, Kevin Murphy, told The Athletic that the accusation is in retaliation of 2017 lawsuit the Cuban-born umpire filed against the league in which he claimed that he wasn’t promoted or given a World Series assignment because of racial discrimination.

“Angel Hernandez did not eavesdrop, he was invited onto that call … and MLB told Angel he made the correct decision," Murphy said.

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The lawyer mentioned other offenses committed by Hernandez, which included asking Minnesota Twins pitcher Homer Bailey for 11 autographed baseballs after a no-hitter and having three calls overturned during the first four innings of Game 3 of the 2018 ALDS between the New York Yankees and Red Sox, the Post reported.