Hideki Irabu, 42, found dead in Los Angeles home

Mailbag: Former Yankee Edition
Trade Rumor Roundup: Ubaldo, Bedard, Kuroda
(Photo Credit: NY Daily News)

Via The Kyoto News, former Yankee Hideki Irabu was found dead at his Los Angeles home today. He was 42. TMZ reports that he committed suicide by hanging himself. Irabu lived in LA with his wife and two children, where he had investments in various Japanese restaurants.

The Yankees originally acquired Irabu from Padres in April of 1997, after San Diego purchased his contract from the Chiba Lotte Mariners. Irabu said he would only play for New York, forcing the trade. Ruben Rivera, Homer Bush, Rafael Medina, and $3M went to the Padres in the transaction. Irabu pitched for the Yankees from 1997-1999, posting a 4.80 ERA in 64 starts and ten relief appearances. His best season was 1998, when he pitched to a 4.08 ERA in 173 IP. The Yankees traded Irabu to the Expos for Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook, and Christian Parker before the 2000 season. He is perhaps most remembered for being called a “fat pussy toad” (as in “full of pus”) by George Steinbrenner after failing to cover first base in Spring Training one year.

After two seasons in Montreal and one as the Rangers’ closer, Irabu was out of Major League Baseball at age 33. He returned to Japan and pitched another year with the Hanshin Tigers, and made a comeback with the Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League in 2009. He spoke of attempting another comeback in Japan after that. Irabu ran into some trouble with the law after retirement, getting arrested for assaulting a bar manager in 2008 and for DUI in 2010.

Mailbag: Former Yankee Edition
Trade Rumor Roundup: Ubaldo, Bedard, Kuroda
  • CC’s third leg

    RIP, very sad news for japanese players this year starting with the earthquake

  • MikeD


    Very sorry to hear.

  • James



  • jsbrendog

    this is horrible news. i was at his first ever major league start against the tigers…i believe they won 8-2 or something. it was very exciting. vendors walking around with coolers of california rolls (oh how culturally insensitive) and tons of japanese people in the crowd. best wishes to his family.

    • Adam

      I was there too. It was a Wednesday I think.

      • jsbrendog

        totally was

    • Oscar Gamble’s Fro

      I was there as well. Stadium was hopping that day. Good times.

      Very sad news.

  • bonestock94

    Ah, sad

  • Jim S


    Sad news. Hope his wife/kids have a lot of support around them.

  • Pants Lendelton

    How does this have 8 likes already?

    • Mister Delaware

      Yeah. I don’t like this.

      • http://nyyprospectwatch.blogspot.com Bryan L

        Up to 48 now. Some people are assholes.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          It’s not literal, that people “like” his death. Liking the post on Facebook just distributes it to your friends, like retweeting on Twitter.

          • Crime Dog

            Yeah the phrase “like” is a bit unfortunate here but it just posts it to your own wall

  • Erica

    WOW. This is so sad. RIP.

  • The Big City of Dreams


  • Karl Krawfid


  • http://nyyprospectwatch.blogspot.com Bryan L


    For a second I thought it said Hideki Kuroda…

    • Oscar Gamble’s Fro

      I thought Matsui.

  • The Constant Gardner


  • Dela G

    R.I.P Hideki

  • Plank

    RIP. I really hope it wasn’t suicide.

    The Fat Pussy Toad croaks no more.

    • RIP Irabu

      you can see that seinfeld episode NEVER appearing on air again

      • Thomas

        That episode was on TBS on Tuesday actually.

    • Oscar Gamble’s Fro

      Hanged himself. Not much doubt.


  • MikeD

    Irabu was viewed negatively, or even as a bit of joke because of the play on words on his name (I-Rob-You), to Steinbrenner’s famous “Fat Pussy Toad” comment, but he was a Major Leaguer, who not only pitched for the most successful baseball team ever, but was one of the starting five for the greatest baseball team of the past generation, hte 1998 Yankees, and was an above average pitcher that season, and was a two-season member of that the late 90s dynasty team.

    He never lived up to the expectations placed on him, but he more than has his place in Yankee history and contributed positively for a couple key seasons.

    RIP, Hideki. You should have had the luxury of telling your grandchildren about being a Yankee.

    • Adam

      Very well said…

      • toad


        Well said.

    • Kiko Jones

      Props to you, MikeD, for your eloquent, heartfelt thoughts.
      Best to Irabu’s family.

    • Normando

      Best take on this I’ve read anywhere. Hopefully, his kids will be able to hang on to some good memories of him, and relate them to their kids.

  • Mickey Scheister

    This is terrible, RIP. God bless his family.

  • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

    Awful news. Hope everything is okay with his family.

  • Plank

    Now big Stein will have someone to complain about in the afterlife.

  • Guest

    So sad. If the reports are true about how he died, its even sadder.

    My prayers and thoughts go out to his family.

  • MikeD

    Now reports coming in that suicide suspected. Very sad, if true.

  • Will (the other one)

    Awful, awful stuff. Rest in peace, Hideki.

  • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

    Sorry to hear this very sad news. I vividly remember the entire Irabu experience from acquisition to disposition. Very sad for his family.

  • Adam

    So often we think of these guys in such raw, emotional terms as nothing more than baseball players for our own entertainment and satisfaction. Sad news like this should help everyone realize after all that it is just a game, and the players playing it people as well who deserve our respect and admiration rather than the silly bile and anger that sometimes crops up, even in the most frustrating of times. Sad news, indeed.

    • Bobby two knives

      absolutely right. Can’t we all wake up to these realities? The people we concern ourselves with, almost addictively, are, underneath it all…people, just like us. Lord, have mercy.

  • Ivan

    Wow shocking news.

    R.I.P. Hideki Irabu.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Sad indeed, Irabu was a major league player. You cannot take that away from him. No matter your thoughts on his abilities. In addition he played on the biggest stage in any venue. But, 42 is way too young to loss your life.

  • Hester Prynne

    Very sad news. Hideki was a part of our run in the late 90s. If George were alive we’d have a nice montage and a moment of silence at the stadium tonight. Hopefully they do right by Hideki.

  • A-ROD fan


  • David, Jr.

    Very sad. My prayers to his family.

  • Crime Dog

    42 is way too young. RIP

  • Samuel Pacarro

    My fullest prayers go out to the Irabu family. Such an unnecessary tragedy for all involved and I really hope his family can survive it. May God Bless Hideki Irabu’s soul and let him find eternal peace in heaven.

    R.I.P. Hideki Irabu

  • vin

    So sad. I too remember the Irabu journey like it was yesterday. I still recall Stuart Scott on Sportscenter, while doing the highlights, hyping up every strikeout and groundball that Irabu induced in his first start. Him coming to the United States WAS a big deal at the time.

  • Incitatus

    Damn. I was never an Irabu fanatic, but he features in two of my favorite 1998 memories, the first watching an interleague series against the Expos with some good friends of mine and just having a blast geeking out on baseball – Irabu got his first MLB hit and a sac bunt in that series, IIRC. The second being a game against the Blue Jays where Clemens beaned Scott Brosius and Irabu retaliated, and when the hitter clearly gave thought to starting a fight, Irabu literally threw his glove on the ground and charged home plate. Only time I’ve ever seen a pitcher charge the plate. It was epic. I don’t think Irabu even got ejected for it.

    RIP Hideki.

  • Addison

    Holy crap, terrible news.

  • http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/ Xstar7

    Whoa, I did not see this coming. That’s awful.

  • jayd808

    Reading up on Hideki, I had missed the news back in 1997 that his biological father was an American. RIP.

  • Jenn

    God bless his family and friends left behind.