If you're on this site, you've probably already seen the news elsewhere: today former NPB and MLB pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead in his home from an apparent suicide. He was 42. Obviously we are saddened by this news.
For me, Irabu's legacy won't be as the former owner of the record for the fastest pitch thrown by a Japanese pitcher, or the "Jellyfish of Makuhari", or the guy who refused to play for the Padres, or the divisive Yankees under-performer. For me Irabu will be a key member of the 2003 Hanshin Tigers, who came within a game of winning the Japan Series in the most enjoyable year of baseball I've ever been around.
I wrote about that season for Baseball Digest a few years ago, when Irabu began his short-lived indy league comeback. Normally I don't like to go back and read things I've written in the past, but this one is an exception.