The Ballad of Hideki Irabu

Hideki Irabu

I should have stayed in San Diego
No one hates in San Diego
You can hear Tom Waits in San Diego
I never saw the morning till I stayed up all night

New York’s a sad and lonely town
when Velvet Elvis no longer comes around
No one bothers to boo when you take the mound
till moments seemed years, torture and solitude
Prometheus Unbound

Sometimes I feel like a fatherless son
& the men I know scare the shit out of me
I want to become what I cannot not hate
I know why Kurt Cobain sang “beat me out of me”

At a bar in Osaka I contemplate time
wondering when I left West LA
or maybe I’m nowhere, nowhere like home
I’m a lonely frog, I ain’t got a home

& Ryujin the dragon god hangs on the wall
someone to watch over me
Someday my luck will change for the better
Someday these demons will leave

I was banished to Montréal like the Spaceman Bill Lee
Told Texas Sayonara like Sparky Lyle
Made a comeback with Kochi but it all went wrong
Owned an udon joint far from the Miracle Mile

Now the lights are out & I’m all alone
with these weeping willows & this hanging tree
Sapporo, ramen, & these beckoning ghosts
Angels & Indians on satellite TV

Hideki Irabu career (MLB): 34-35, 5.15, 514 IP, 175 BB, 405 K, 4 CG, 2 ShO, 16 SV, 89 ERA+
Hideki Irabu career (Japan): 72-69, 3.55, 1286 IP, 558 BB, 1282 K, 43 CG, 3 ShO, 11 SV

Also worth reading:

“Pitching from behind: The sad road of Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu” by Robert Whiting

“Irabu spent final days lost, without purpose” by Robert Whiting

“Attitude, lifestyle contributed to Irabu’s demise” by Robert Whiting

“Irabu’s impact on MLB-NPB relations profound” by Robert Whiting

“The Complicated Life and Death of Hideki Irabu,” by Ben Reiter

Hideki Irabu card courtesy of


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