Onetime Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu has been found dead in his Southern California home at age 42. Police are investigating the case as a suicide, reports AP. Born in Japan, Irabu was signed in 1997 with great fanfare by the San Diego Padres, but he was traded to the Yankees the same year; he said they were the only team that interested him. He went 29-20 over 3 years for the team and was traded to the Montreal Expos in 1999 before retiring in 2002, the New York Post reports. He was 34-35 overall, never quite living up to expectations of being the Japanese Nolan Ryan.
When Irabu didn’t cover first base in a 1999 exhibition game, then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner labeled him a “fat, pussy toad," the Post recalls. He barred the pitcher from joining the team on a road trip to Los Angeles. A few days later, Steinbrenner apologized for his comment. “It's unfortunate that the remark about his weight came out,” he said.