Ex-Yankee Hideki Irabu Dead; Suicide Suspected

Former pitcher was 42
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 28, 2011 4:38 PM CDT
In this July 10, 1997 file photo, New York Yankees' Hideki Irabu throws in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers in his Major League debut in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – 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. (Read more New York Yankees stories.)

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