Fame Killed Yankee Hideki Irabu

new york yankee stadiumTragic news struck baseball this week when on Wednesday, former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead in his apartment outside of Los Angeles. Authorities have called Irabu's death an apparent suicide. Irabu was married and had two children -- so sad ...

The former "sensation" had a fast rise to the top, as one of the top players in Japan in the mid-1990s. He was known for having clocked the fastest pitch ever recorded in the country's history (98 MPH), and then in 1997, Irabu headed to the U.S. and landed a spot on the New York Yankees. His arrival was really hyped up -- Mayor Rudy Giuliani even gifted the guy for joining the team.

But sadly, as seems to be the case more often than we would like, the hype quickly faded, and the ridiculously high expectations that were set for Irabu were impossible for him to meet.


So it's no surprise he took such a tumble from grace, but the people who had put him on a pedestal didn't have to be the ones to kick him down. Like Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who called Irabu a "fat toad" after he failed to cover first base in an exhibition game. 

I can't help but think that if Irabu had been treated differently, or maybe just normally and not as some international superhero prodigy expected to save the day, he might not have taken it as hard once his professional ball playing days were over. Who knows? He could have been depressed for a slew of reasons. But it's very possible his career in the MLB took a toll psychologically. And that's something the organization should certainly take into consideration.


Image via Eric Beato/Flickr

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