The Japanese sportsman, who was previously a pitcher for the New York Yankees, was found dead at his house in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes on Thursday (28Jul11). It is believed he took his own life.
A police spokesman tells the New York Post, ""He was found dead by an apparent suicide.""
The star moved to the U.S. in 1997, but his career took a tumble after Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ridiculed his talent, calling him ""a fat, pussy toad"".
He also sparked controversy in 2008 when he was busted for assaulting a bar manager in his native Japan while allegedly intoxicated, and he was arrested last year (10) on suspicion of driving under the influence in Los Angeles.
No further details of his death were available as WENN went to press.