MANHATTAN — Former Yankee pitcher Hideki Irabu, whose career never recovered from withering criticism hurled by George Steinbrenner, has committed suicide, Reuters reported.
The New York Post quoted a source saying that Irabu, 42, a Japanese star who pitched for the Bombers from 1997 to 1999, hanged himself in his Los Angeles home. His body was found Thursday.
“He was a wonderful talent. It's a real shock," Reuters quoted Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese player to pitch in Major League baseball, as saying.
"He was such a dominant pitcher for (Japanese club Chiba) Lotte (Marines)," said Murakami. "But he seemed to lose his way once he went to the Yankees.
"His performances dropped and he had trouble with management. Perhaps they expected more from him as he arrived as one of the best pitchers in the world."
Irabu was once called a "fat toad" by late owner Steinbrenner.
"That's not a Yankee," the Boss famously said in 1999.
"He still won two World Series rings — Barry Bonds doesn't have one," Murakami, the original Japanese trailblazer who played for the San Francisco Giants in the 1960s, told Reuters.
Irabu played three seasons with the Yankees.