An umpire fired by Major League Baseball for drug violations this week is no stranger to trouble.
Sources said this week than 43-year-old Brian Runge, a 14-year MLB veteran umpire, had failed at least one a random drug test and then did not comply with an agreement MLB had drawn up to allow him to keep working.
Before his firing, Runge had earned a solid reputation. He worked the playoffs three times, as well as working in the 2012 All-Star game. His father was a National League Umpire from 1973-99, working the World Series four times before becoming the NL’s executive director of umpires. Runge’s grandfather Ed was also an American League umpire from 1954-70, working the World Series three times.
But despite his status with the league and rich pedigree as a third-generation official, the umpire fired by MLB is no stranger to controversy. In September 2007 he started an argument with San Diego Padres outfielder Milton Bradley, saying another official accused Bradley of throwing his bat at him.
Bradley confronted both Brian Runge and the other umpire, tearing his ACL when manager Bud Black tried to hold him back.
Just over a week later Runge got into another confrontation on the field. During a game between the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners at Shea Stadium in New York, Runge had words with Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran after the slugger questioned a strike call.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel came out to argue with Runge, leading the umpire to bump Manuel on the chest. Manuel and Beltran were both fined in the incident, while Runge was suspended for one game.
Runge also had an unexplained absence during three months of the 2009 season, but there is no word on whether this was a disciplinary action. The umpire missed more time at end of the 2012 season because of a knee injury, but at the start of this season saw no regular-season work after umpiring some spring training and Triple-A games.
On Tuesday the reason for the absence was revealed — the umpire had been fired by the league.