Ex-Yankee pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead yesterday in his Los Angeles home of an apparent suicide, authorities said.
The 42-year-old hanged himself, a source told the New York Post, but authorities say that it is an ongoing investigation. Neighbors said that Irabu had become despondent recently because of a spilt with his wife.
The New York Yankees said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Hideki Irabu. Every player that wears the Pinstripes is forever a part of the Yankees family, and his death is felt throughout our organization. Our sympathies and support go out to his wife, Kyonsu, his two children, and all of his friends and loved ones."
Born in Japan, Irabu was signed in 1997 to the San Diego Padres, but was then traded to the Yankees the same year. He went 29-20 for three years for the team and was traded to the Montreal Expos in 1999 and then went back to Japan before retiring in 2004.
Irabu lived his lifelong dream by pitching for the Yankees, but his career soon went downhill after Yankees owner George Steinbrenner insulted him and drove him out. He then found himself on the bad side of the Boss and was devastated by the ugly tirade.
Steinbrenner labeled him in 1999 as a “fat, pussy toad,” according to several media outlets. Steinbrenner did apologize two weeks later, but the incident sapped Irabu’s spirit as told to many sports analysts and he went on to have a disappointing career as a right-hander. He was signed to a four-year, $12.8 million contract with the Bombers.
Irabu was known for his fast right-hand with a 98-mph fastball and was termed as the Japanese version of Nolan Ryan and seemed destined to becoming a hall of famer.
An autopsy is planned for Friday morning, according to the Coroner’s office.
Irabu is survived by his wife and two children.