There were few MLB hitters as feared as Darryl Strawberry was in the 1980s and early 1990s.
He was the guy you loved if you were a New York Mets fan early in his career and a New York Yankees fan later in his run. But Strawberry was a guy you simply hated to see walking up to the plate if you were the opposing pitcher, manager or die hard fan. Without a doubt, Strawberry gave this Atlanta Braves‘ fan nightmares in the 80s.
World Series rings, MVP honors and numbers that made him one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of his generation, is what defined this man in his prime. Strawberry averaged 143 hits, 92 runs, 34 homers, 102 RBI, 23 stolen bases and a .259 average each season over his 17 year career. As a comparison, Barry Bonds averaged 159 hits, 121 runs, 41 homers, 108 RBI, 28 stolen bases and a .298 average each season over his 22 year, steroid-induced, sham of a career.
But despite the accolades and where his place actually is in the history of the game, something was always missing. Whatever was missing, Strawberry unfortunately tried to fill that void with drugs and alcohol. He may have thought he had it all with his heroic, God-like feats inside the diamond along with the riches and power that came with the money outside the lines. In reality, he was a lost mess of a man.
USA Today‘s Bob Nitghtengale completed an outstanding feature as Strawberry let him into the pain, mistakes and suffering that was Darryl and the joy he now has in life thanks to the grace of God as Pastor.
“I’m over ‘Strawberry,’ ” he tells USA Today Sports. “I’m over Mets. I’m over Yankees. I don’t want to exist as Darryl Strawberry, the baseball player. People don’t understand that’s no longer you. I’m not a baseball player, anymore. That person is dead.”
And the person who is now alive is one who is happily married to Tracy Strawberry, a woman, who thanks to her own struggles and faith, would not give up on her now husband. They both live outside of St. Louis and have dedicated their lives to helping others anyway they can through Strawberry Ministries.
In fact, you cannot find any memorabilia or mention of Darryl around their home. No rings, no bats, no Mets’ jersey hanging in the hallway. No pictures with the other Yankee greats. Instead you see photos of his new family and the promises God has revealed to him in the Bible.
The full story is worth your time to read and dig into for sure. But the one thing that all folks need to remember is that Strawberry is a man who has found love, hope and faith to overcome the pains of his life. This does not mean he will always be perfect. We can all hope and pray he does. But anyone with any understanding of the Bible and God’s word knows he is constantly under attack from his weakness and old addictions and Satan would love nothing more than to see him fall one final time.
But, bets are on Pastor Strawberry and not Darryl as he will return to Citi Field next week for the MLB All-Star Game. There is no doubt every demon he use to battle will be in attendance and trying to sneak their way to the front row.
So Godspeed Pastor Strawberry. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are standing in agreement with you and pray for your continued peace.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.