Star baseball player Hideki Irabu was found hanging in his California home, and the police have said it was a case of 'apparent suicide'.

Hirabu, half-American and half-Japanese, attained stardom in his early years in Japan before signing a lucrative $12.8-million contract to play in the U.S. in 1997. He was an integral part of the Yankees team that won World Series crowns in 1998 and 1999.Besides the Yankees, he had also played for Expos and Rangers.

The 42-year-old had battled alcohol-related problems in the past, while his marriage had hit the rocks as well. It emerged that Irabu's wife and two daughters had left the family's home in the LA suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes a month before.

"He was found dead by an apparent suicide," Sergeant Michael Arriaga of the county sheriff's office said.

The Yankees paid tribute to him: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Hideki Irabu. Every player that wears the Pinstripes is forever a part of the Yankees family, and his death is felt throughout our organization ... Our sympathies and support go out to his wife, Kyonsu, his two children, and all of his friends and loved ones."

Media reports said Irabu had been arrested twice in the last three years in connection with drinking related incidents.