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MLB: Umpire Angel Hernandez eavesdropped on investigative call

Michael Hickey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Major League Baseball says umpire Angel Hernandez eavesdropped during a phone call in July 2019 when the league was investigating an incident from a game he worked, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic.

Hernandez, who's suing the league for racial discrimination, was the acting crew chief for the contest between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, which was played under protest by the latter club after a 14-minute delay over confusion about the rules. Boston ultimately dropped the protest.

Then-chief baseball officer Joe Torre launched an investigation into the incident, according to documents MLB filed Friday in the lawsuit. He said that Hernandez did not get off the phone when his interview ended and listened to umpire Ed Hickox being questioned.

The league asked Hernandez about the eavesdropping in an Aug. 19 call, according to the filings.

"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 a letter dated Aug. 23, 2019. "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.

"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. ... 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."

In the letter, Torre then stripped Hernandez of his acting crew chief status.

Hernandez sued MLB in 2017, alleging that he'd stopped receiving World Series assignments and had been passed over for a promotion to crew chief due to racial discrimination.

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