Former Yankees Pitcher Hideki Irabu Found Dead

Hideki-IrabuHideki Irabu, the former Yankees pitcher who played for New York from 1997 to 1999, was found dead on Wednesday in a Rancho Palos Verde house in Los Angeles. According to Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Investigative Division, the 42-year-old former MLB pitcher had hanged himself.”He was found dead by an apparent suicide,” Sgt. Michael Arriaga reportedly told the Associated Press.

The Yankees organization extended its condolences to Irabu’s family through a statement issued on Thursday. “Our sympathies and support go out to his wife, Kyonsu, his two children, and all of his friends and loved ones,” the statement read.

The Yankees signed Irabu to a $12.8 million, four-year contract in 1997 after the Japanese baseball star famously refused to play for the San Diego Padres, who had bought his contract from the Chiba Lotte Marines. He impressed in his Major League debut on July 10, 1997. In that game, Irabu struck out nine in six and two-thirds innings, as the Yankees defeated the Detroit Tigers, 10-3.

However, that first game turned out to be Irabu’s best outing, as he failed to live up to expectations. In 1999, the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner infamously called Irabu a “a fat pussy toad” after the pitcher failed to cover first base in a spring training game.

After his stint with the Yankees, Irabu played for the Montreal Expos from 2000-2001 and the Texas Rangers in 2002. He returned to Japan the next year to play for the Hanshin Tigers.