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Japanese native Hideki Irabu, former New York Yankees pitcher, was found dead in Rancho Palos Verdes, a Los Angeles suburb. He was discovered at approximately 4:25 PM local time on Wednesday by a local country sheriff. His death was deemed a suicide by hanging.
In Japan, Irabu was a baseball star and was even called the “Japanese Nolan Ryan”. In 1997, he was sent to Yankees where he pitched in thirteen games with a 7.09 ERA. His best season was the following year, where he went 13-9 with a 4.06 ERA. In his three seasons in New York, he went 29-20 with a 4.80 ERA. It was in his last year that Yankee owner George Steinbrenner referred to Irabu as a “fat toad”.
After being traded to the Expos in December of 1999, Irabu spent two seasons with the Montreal team until he was released in 2001 and was sent to the Texas Rangers. He spent one season in Texas and ended his major league career in 2002. In his professional career in the United States, he went 34-35 with a 5.15 ERA. During his career in Japan, he played for eleven seasons and went 72-69 with a 3.55 ERA.
In August of 2008, Irabu was arrested for assaulting the manager of a bar in Osaka. In May of 2010, he was arrested for driving under the influence in Redondo Beach, California. His teammates on the Yankees remember Irabu as a talented player who was fun to be around.