Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu, 42, was found dead in his Los Angeles-area home, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to USA TODAY.
The Yankees also said the incident is being investigated as a suicide. The body of Irabu was found at 7:25 p.m. ET yesterday. He was found dead by an apparent suicide,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Arriaga told AP.
Irabu spent six seasons in the majors from 1997 to 2002 with a career record of 34-35 record and 5.15 ERA. He won two World Series titles with the Yankees (1998 and 1999) but never appeared in a Series game.
As a star Japanese pitcher, Irabu’s contract was purchased in 1997 by the San Diego Padres from the Lotte Orions (now Chiba Lotte Marines). However, Irabu said he would only play for New York and forced a trade.
The Padres sent Irabu, then 28, to the Yankees, where he signed a four-year, $12.8 million deal and spent three seasons.
On July 10, 1997, Irabu made his major league debut against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium and earned his first victory.
His best season came in 1998, when he posted a 13-9 record with a 4.06 ERA in 173 innings. He followed that up with an 11-7 record, 4.84 ERA.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner often expressed his displeasure with Irabu, calling him a “fat … toad” because of his weight.
After the 1999 season, he was traded to the Montreal Expos, where he appeared in just 14 games. In the two seasons with the Expos, he was 2-7 with a 6.69 ERA over 71 1/3 innings.
Irabu had intentions of returning to the Japanese professional league. He later ran into trouble with the law, getting arrested for DUI in 2010.