July 28, 2011

Hideki Irabu found dead today

When I turned 17, my brother decided it would be cool to get me tickets to the New York Yankees as a gift. It was fantastic even though it was scheduled for the day before my birthday.

That game actually worked out to be Hideki Irabu's debut with the New York Yankees in 1997. It was a fantastic game. He struck out nine and gave up two runs against the Detroit Tigers to earn a 10-3 win.

But it never really got much better than that for Irabu (here's ESPN's story on his death today). He finished his MLB career 34-35 and will unfortunately be remembered more for George Steinbrenner calling him a Fat Toad more than anything else.

I wonder about Irabu's baseball cards now. There were 172 listings as I wrote this blog, and 27 of them were put up just today.

Was he as big as Dice-K when he first came up? I honestly don't remember. When Irabu signed with the Yankees, it was one of the lulls of collecting I had gone through.

Irabu had a slew of Japanese cards starting in 1991. His Major League Baseball card wasn't until 1997.

His Rookie Cards are worth mere pennies these days. He didn't pan out the way the New York Yankees are baseball pundits expected.



  1. I remember that game. I was sitting on the back deck at my home in NY watching the game with my Dad. He gave us a lot of hope with that first game. My sister got me a birthday present of a Hideki Irabu poster that had "Typhoon" on it. Cool looking poster. He wasn't a terrible pitcher but he certainly didn't live up to the hype.
    I took a chance one day about two years ago and sent a card to his address in CA and asked him to sign it. He did. I was saddened by the news and feel for his family.

  2. He was referred to as "the Japanese Nolan Ryan". The hype around him was closer to that of Hideo Nomo (much bigger than Dice-K).

    Unfortunately he didn't live up to it, and incurred Steinbrenner's remark when he didn't cover first base one time on a play.

  3. It is amazing that one off the cuff insult (the one by Steinbrenner) will be what is remembered about Hideki. Sad.