Baseball pitcher Hideki Irabu dies, aged 42

Hideki Irabu, in a 1999 file photo Mr Irabu's best season was 1999, when he won 11 games and lost 7 in 27 starts

Baseball pitcher Hideki Irabu, who played on two World Series championship teams and was one of the first Japanese players in US baseball, has died at 42.

Irabu's death at his home near Los Angeles was being investigated as a suicide, police said.

Beginning in 1997 he pitched six seasons in the Major Leagues, including three with the New York Yankees.

He had a career record of 34 wins and 35 losses in 80 starts, and retired from Major League baseball in 2002

Born in Hyogo, Japan, Irabu was a hard-throwing right hander for the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japanese Pacific league, when his contract was purchased by the San Diego Padres baseball team in 1997.

He said he would only play for the New York Yankees, and the San Diego club traded him. The Yankees signed him to a four-year, $12.8m (£7.83m) deal.

After a brief stint on a Yankees minor league team, he joined the Yankee's starting pitching rotation in the 1997 team. He was a starting pitcher on the Yankees' 1998 and 1999 World Series championship teams.

In 1999, Irabu angered the famously irascible Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who disparaged him about his weight and called him a fat toad.

In 2009, Irabu said he hoped to return to Japanese baseball.

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