BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- National League umpire Bob Engel, a veteran of 25 years, resigned Wednesday after pleading no contest to charges he shoplifted several boxes of baseball cards from a local store.
Engel, 56, tearfully read a prepared statement in his hometown, saying he was depressed over family problems and had 'conducted myself in ways I could not control or understand.'
Earlier in the day, Engel pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges stemming from the theft of baseball cards in April. He was placed on three years probation, given 40 hours of community service and will continue the counseling he has been undergoing since his arrest.
Engel, who is married with two children, apologized for what he called 'conduct that defies all logic.'
'I became withdrawn, I was depressed, I experienced anxiety and vertigo attacks,' he said. 'I now realize that for the past several years it was as if I were two different people, running along a tightrope going faster and faster, knowing I was going to fall, just not knowing when.
'Because I love baseball, I would never intentionally do anything to harm or taint the game. If I have unintentionly done so, I apologize to the fans of baseball, the players, the managers, and in particular, my fellow umpires.
'Now that a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders, I plan on working ... extra hard to regain your confidence as well as my own dignity and self respect.'
Gordon Verrell, national president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, said at Dodger Stadium, 'Bob Engel was an outstanding umpire, and you hate to see anyone end his career this way. I knew him well as a personal friend, and speaking for the writers, we wish him well.'