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Hideki Irabu Newsbeat

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Today in Baseball History: Yankees trade for Hideki Irabu

Before George Steinbrenner would, cruelly, give him a different nickname which we’ll get to in a minute, Hideki Irabu was known as “the Japanese Nolan Ryan.” He sort of looked like the Japanese Roger Clemens, actually. He was 6’4″ and 250 pounds and pitched at a time when most Japanese pitchers were slighter guys whose games were more about finesse than power. That wasn’t Irabu’s game. He was a hard-thrower, leading NPB’s Pacific League in wins in 1994, in ERA in 1995 and 1996, and in strikeouts in 1994 and 1995. He was a pretty damn big deal.

And he wanted to a big deal in America. Which, at the time was not exactly an easy thing to do for a Japanese player.

While we’re all basically familiar with the posting system which controls how Japanese players come to the American big leagues, but such a process didn’t yet exist in 1997. In its absence existed two options: (a) playing ten years in Japan and becoming a true free agent, like Hideo Nomo had done; or (b) having your team make a side deal with a U.S. team and basically selling your rights to them. In Irabu’s case, the San Diego Padres entered into a an agreement with Irabu’s team in Japan, the Chiba Lotte Marines, guaranteeing the Padres exclusive rights to the ace. This angered a number of major league teams that wanted to bid for him and that anger eventually led to the posting system, but for Irabu it was the Padres or nothing.

Or maybe not.

The story of a player and a team- not a particularly uplifting one, I must admit…..

QLE Posted: April 23, 2020 at 12:55 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: hideki irabu, history, trades, yankees

 

 

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