Former Yankee Hideki Irabu was found dead in his Los Angeles home today. Police are reportedly investigating his death as a suspected suicide, according to the Kyoto News. He lived on the west coast with his wife and two children, he was 42.
Irabu was actually a big contributor to the Yankees in 1998 despite his poor reputation around here. From the start of the season until the end of July he put up a 9-3 record with a 2.86 ERA. He struggled in the second half though and was eventually left off the playoff roster.
He could never recapture his touch from the first half of ’98 and was eventually traded to Montreal for Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook and one other minor leaguer. He spent two seasons with the Expos and one more with the Rangers in 2002 before retiring.
He had trouble fitting in here in America and after being called the Japanese version of Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, he never lived up to expectations. In more recent years he had experienced personal issues, but he was still trying to catch on in Japanese professional leagues. It’s sad to hear that things ultimately never worked out.
I don’t think he’ll ever be remembered in New York in a positive way, but I think he has been the player everyone has loved to hate. He’s our “Fat Toad” as George Steinbrenner once referred to him. We never really liked him, but we always loved his special place in Yankee lore.
R.I.P Hideki Irabu, two time World Series Champion. And one last time…