Friday, July 29, 2011

Hideki Irabu, 1969-2011

Hideki Irabu had some good days
after coming to the States, and
some bad ones. Thursday, we can
assume, was a bad one.
Hideki Irabu was found dead Thursday, an apparent suicide.

He was a big star in his native Japan, and, as detailed here by Matthew Pouliot, an above-average starter in the U.S. for a couple of seasons. He was the fifth starter on the 1998 Yankees, a team I believe was the greatest team ever assembled.

But what Irabu is remembered for, and as, was George Steinbrenner's characterization of him during spring training 1999 as "a fat, pus-sy toad." The insult was too memorable; it clung to Irabu the rest of his life.

It is beyond my ability to know what effect Steinbrenner's public display of contempt had on Irabu's psyche, but it probably didn't help. I have never had to look for reasons to dislike Steinbrenner; the reasons just come, even after his death.

Irabu's U.S. pitching career was neither long nor brilliant, but he helped the Yankees win a couple of World Series. I'll try to keep
that as my primary memory of him.

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