Sunday, July 10, 2005
July 10th, 1997
Hideki Irabu Debuts
I’ll always remember this game for the sheer number of Japanese people in attendance at Yankee Stadium. Irabu wasn’t the first Japanese player to make the transition to Major League Baseball from
The rights to negotiate with Irabu were sold to the San Diego Padres by the Chiba Lotte Marines in early 1997. Irabu said he would only pitch for the Yankees and four months later, the Yankees and Padres made one of the odder trades in baseball, with the Yankees sending $3 million in cash plus oft injured outfielder Ruben Rivera and a minor leaguer to the Padres for the mere right to negotiate with Hideki.
Flash Forward to July 10th and Irabu’s first start, in which Hideki impressively struck out nine and held the Detroit Tigers to 3 runs. Alas, for Hideki, this would be one of the few highlights of his career. Irabu never won more than 13 games in a season, in fact only reaching above 10 wins once more. His 6 year career winning percentage was .493. Irabu moved on to the Montreal Expos for two seasons and in his last season in 2002 he was converted into a closer with 16 saves for the Texas Rangers.
He also holds the honor of being called a “Fat Pussy Toad” by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner for not covering first base during an exhibition game. Not that I disagree with George, but an exhibition game?