Hideki Irabu was a mjor league pitcher with the Yankees, Expos and Rangers.
Prospect to Bust
Originally envisioned to be the next Hideo Nomo type of rookie sensation, Irabu was orginally brought from Japan to the US by the Padres. He was then traded to the Yankees. Hyped and playing under the spotlight of New York, Irabu was a can't miss prospect whose cards saw high value in 1997 and 1998. However within 3 years, The Boss had had enough and banished him from New York. He would pitch for the Expos and Rangers before finally leaving the major leagues in 2002.
Impact to the Hobby
Irabu is the first example of the over-hyped Japanese star who never could perform at the same level in the major leagues. Had he been a simple draft choice, his career may not have seemed like such a flop. Just to show how much hype Irabu received before even stepping foot on a mound in the US, Fleer created an insert set for him in the 1997 Ultra release.
Irabu appears in the major Japanese sets from 1991 until 1996. After that he would appear on major league cards until 2003.
There are two versions of the 1997 Score card, one in English and the other in Japanese.
- 1997 Bowman #221
- 1997 Bowman Chrome #198
- 1997 Bowman's Best #149
- 1997 Donruss Limited #135 (with Andy Pettitte)
- 1997 Finest #320
- 1997 Fleer #751
- 1997 Leaf #324
- 1997 Pinnacle Certified #129
- 1997 Pinnacle X-Press #137
- 1997 Score Baseball #551
- 1997 Select #153
- 1997 SP #184
- 1997 Sports Illustrated #11
- 1997 Ultra #553
- 1997 Upper Deck Baseball #550
- 1997 Zenith #45
Irabu was never featured on an autographed card.
Irabu had game used cards in 2001 SP Authentic and the 2002 Upper Deck Peoples Choice Game Jersey insert set.