Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hideki Irabu Found Dead In LA

Hideki Irabu and Rudolph Guiliani in happier times.

Former New York Yankees and Japanese League pitcher Hideki Irabu has been found dead in his home in Los Angeles, CA. Kyodo News reported that police are investigating a possible suicide. Another source said that Irabu had hung himself, but that has not been confirmed.

Irabu was a solid, but unspectacular pitcher for the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League before signing with the Yankees during the 1997 season. (After acquiring his rights from San Diego). At the time, his four year, $12.8MM was the highest for a Major League rookie. But Irabu's performance never matched the hype nor did his fastball,which was supposed to be in the upper 90's.

In two-plus seasons in New York, Irabu was 29-20, 4.80 before he was dealt to the Montreal Expos with Jake Westbrook for Ted Lilly and Christian Parker. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner infamously referred to Irabu as a "fat pussy toad".

Irabu pitched in just 14 big league games for the Expos (2-6, 6.69) and was released in early September. He played on more season in the US for the Texas Rangers in 2002 and recorded 16 saves as a reliever. He returned to Japan after the season and pitched for two years with the Hanshin Tigers.

He came out of retirement in 2009 and attempted a comeback with the Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League, but retired in August. Last year he was arrested on a DUI charge in California.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

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