Major League Baseball has accused umpire Angel Hernandez of eavesdropping on an investigative call last year, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reports. The league was conducting an investigation into why a for nearly 20 minutes over umpire confusion about rules. The Red Sox ultimately played the remainder of the game under protest, but did not decide to continue after the game.
Hernandez was the acting crew chief for that game. He had a call with the league about the incident, and MLB officials said Hernandez stayed on the line as the league discussed the situation with a different umpire. Here's more from Kaplan:
According to MLB legal filings Friday in the lawsuit, after the July 24 Rays-Red Sox contest, the league under then-chief baseball officer Joe Torre launched an investigation into the confusion and interviewed the umpires involved in the game. Torre then later claimed Hernandez did not get off the phone when his interview ended and listened to the interview of umpire Ed Hickox. MLB conducted a separate call with Hernandez on Aug. 19 to question him on the alleged eavesdropping.
Torre addressed Hernandez in an Aug. 23 letter, where a copy was attached to MLB's original filings and obtained by Kaplan: "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. "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. ...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."
According to The Athletic, Torre wrote in the letter that he would be stripping Hernandez of his acting crew chief status. In response, Hernandez's lawyer said: "Angel Hernandez did not eavesdrop, he was invited onto that call … and MLB told Angel he made the correct decision."
Hernandez's lawyer also said that the league's eavesdropping allegation is a form of retaliation against Hernandez for pursuing his discrimination claims. In 2017,against him by not promoting him or giving him recent World Series assignments.
MLB's response in legal filings to Hernandez's lawsuit include that Hernandez did not have the comportment to be a crew chief or work the World Series, The Athletic notes. In addition to the Red Sox-Rays game delay, MLB also listed other incidents in a response to Hernandez including violating league rules when he asked Homer Bailey to autograph 11 baseballs after a 2012 no-hitter and having three of his calls overturned by replay during the first four innings of a 2018 Yankees-Red Sox playoff game.