Former major-league slugger Darryl Strawberry to speak at La Croix

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Pastor Darryl Strawberry speaks to the Celebrate Recovery group in 2013 at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

Darryl Strawberry had it all as a Major League Baseball player: Power with 335 home runs, speed with 221 stolen bases, money and fame, winning four World Series titles in New York City — three with the Yankees and one with the Mets.

The 1983 National League Rookie of the Year had other well-documented numbers that largely derailed the second half of his 17-year career. He was suspended three times for substance abuse and was diagnosed with colon cancer.

These days, Strawberry is an ordained Christian minister and author, and he will address three services this weekend at La Croix Church, 3102 Lexington Ave. in Cape Girardeau.

“He’s got a great story, a great testimony,” La Croix senior pastor Ron Watts said. “During the final years of his playing, he really got into some trouble with drugs, and he pretty much hit bottom, and through God’s grace was able to find sobriety and freedom.”

Strawberry since has founded Strawberry Ministries and has launched a recovery program and treatment center with his wife, Tracy, whom he met at a drug recovery convention and married in 2006.

A memoir titled “Straw: Finding My way,” was published in 2009, and he has another book, “Don’t Give Up on Me,” coming next month. His upcoming book examines his battles with drug and alcohol addiction, shedding light on the problems and offering a path to healing.

Strawberry was the first player chosen in the 1980 MLB June Amateur Draft by the New York Mets, won the NL Rookie of the Year award at age 21 and, with fellow phenomenon Dwight Gooden, helped lead the team to a World Series title in 1986. The lean 6-foot-6 Strawberry possessed a fluid left-handed swing that could uncork prodigious home runs. But he was known for erratic behavior that included oversleeping, missing workouts and an occasional brush with teammates. He twice finished in the top three of NL MVP voting, was a member of the 30-30 club in home runs and stolen bases, and he had hit 280 homers by the age of 29 in 1991. He hit 55 more before retiring at the age of 37 in 1999.

He spent his first eight seasons with the Mets before signing as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1990 season. He was released by the Dodgers in 1994 and signed with the Yankees, with whom he was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 before finishing his career a year later.

Strawberry will speak for 30 minutes at three services: 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s for anybody that’s facing a difficult thing in life,” Watts said. “I think he gives hope for being able to overcome those difficult things. And of course for him, it happened to be alcohol, but someone else it might be a different kind of challenge.”

jbreer@semissourian.com

(573) 388-3629

Pertinent address:

3102 Lexington Ave., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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