Hideki Irabu Launches Comeback and Signs with the Long Beach Armada
Ex-Yankee and Japanese Great To Showcase His Return to Top Form in Golden Baseball League
LONG BEACH, Calif. -– The Long Beach Armada of the independent professional Golden Baseball League (GBL) have announced that they have agreed to terms with former Major League pitcher and Japan Professional Baseball (NPB) League superstar Hideki Irabu on a player contract for the 2009 season. Irabu became the greatest power pitcher in professional baseball history in Japan before coming to the U.S. in the mid 90s and winning two World Series titles with the New York Yankees.
"Hideki Irabu is a tremendous addition to our pitching staff," said Long Beach Armada Manager Garry Templeton. "I'm looking forward to the skill, experience, and professionalism that a player of his caliber will bring to the club and believe that this will be a great place for him to demonstrate that he is ready to return to the top levels of the game here or in Japan."
Irabu, 39, broke into professional baseball in Japan with the Lotte Orions in 1988 and became known as the hardest thrower and one of the most dominant pitchers in the league over the next eight seasons. His 98 mph fastball is still the fastest ever by a Japanese pitcher. After the 1996 season, he became one of the early pitchers to move from the NPB to the Major Leagues in the U.S. as he joined the New York Yankees and won World Series rings in 1998 and 1999. He went on to pitch for the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers during six seasons in the U.S. before returning to Japan where he joined the Hanshin Tigers and helped them to their first pennant in 20 years. Knee surgery finally sidelined him and he has spent the last two years re-habbing and getting back into pitching shape. Now healthy and with a fastball clocked at 92+ already this month he is determined to show that he can once again contribute to the success of an MLB or NPB team.
"What a treat for our fans," said Long Beach Armada General Manager Tony Soares. "Jet balloons, hachimakis, and sushi will all be available at Blair Field this year along with a chance to watch a true baseball superstar perform!"
Monday, April 27, 2009
Hope you speak Japanese! The flame-throwing Hideki Irabu will take the mound for the Armada in 2009. With a pitching staff that already includes Jose Lima, this is sure be a great season. Here is the official release on Irabu's signing...