In what's believed to be the first dismissal of its kind, Major League Baseball reportedly has fired umpire Brian Runge, a 14-year veteran, for a drug violation. Two sources for the Associated Press say that Runge, 43, failed at least one drug test and failed to comply with an agreement with MLB that had allowed him to stay on staff.
Unique because he was a third-generation MLB ump, Runge worked the All-Star Game in 2012 and was the plate umpire for three no-hitters, including Philip Humber's perfect game in 2012. Runge didn't work a game in 2012 after Aug. 30 because of a knee injury, though he did work spring training games this season, along with some games in Triple-A. MLB announced in June that Runge was no longer on the major league staff — but has never given a reason why.
Ben Walker of the A.P. writes:
Like players, umpires are subject to random drug tests. Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon, Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal all missed time this season because of drug suspensions imposed last year. In addition, 26 players have been suspended this year under the minor league drug program.
This is a tragic shame, not only for Brian Runge personally, but also given the Runge family's history in MLB. His dad, Paul Runge, was a National League umpire from 1973 to 1997 who worked four World Series before becoming the NL's executive director of umpires. Grandfather Ed Runge umpired from 1954 to 1970 and worked three World Series.
Check out Deadspin's post on Runge, part of its recurring series Better Know An Umpire.