Darryl Strawberry, the former New York Mets outfielder, had as much talent as most other players in MLB history.
The imposing 6-foot-6 Strawberry was a scary sight for opposing pitchers.
The first of 2⃣5⃣2⃣! HBD to our all-time home run king, Darryl Strawberry! 👑 pic.twitter.com/IHNKoQ3IEW
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 12, 2019
He was a blend of power and speed at a size that wasn’t typically seen in the league.
However, Strawberry’s MLB story is actually a sad one filled with struggles of pressure, addiction and exile.
Even when faced with this adversity, Strawberry revitalized his image as a player and became one of the sport’s best redemption stories.
Here is a look at the complete story of the polarizing figure that had some of the most potential ever from a player.
Mets Draft Strawberry
In the 1980 draft, the Mets picked Strawberry up with the first overall pick in the draft.
He was called up to the majors in 1983 and instantly made his presence known.
In 122 games, he hit .257 with 26 home runs on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award.
This was just the start of a string of quality seasons by Strawberry as he positioned himself as one of the MLB’s best players.
From 1983-1991, he hit at least 26 home runs each season while hitting above .250.
He added eight straight All-Star appearances after his rookie season as well.
In 1986, he was a core part of a Mets team that fought their way to a World Series title.
Alongside star pitcher Dwight Gooden, the two became beloved and dominant figures in New York.
Back-to-back Rookie of the Year award winners in 1983 & 1984, Darryl Strawberry and @DocGooden16 helped lead the @Mets to a memorable World Series title in 1986. #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/oSI3cDkuby
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 19, 2018
He took yet another major step forward during the 1987 season, where he slugged 39 home runs with a .284 average.
He also added 36 stolen bases that year too, joining the fairly exclusive “30-30” club.
His 1988 season was yet another standout one, as he once again hit 39 home runs and led the league.
Strawberry also led the league in slugging percentage (.545) and OPS (.911).
Because of this, he was the runner-up for the MVP award.
While 1989 was a down year, he bounced back strong in 1990 as he hit 37 home runs and had a .277 average.
Prior to that season, however, he had been arrested for allegedly assaulting his first wife.
He also checked into an alcohol rehabilitation center.
This set up a second act of his career that would be his downfall.
After the 1990 season, Strawberry signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 5-years and $20.25 million.
He once again performed well in 1991, hitting 28 home runs.
— GSH (@gman416) April 1, 2020
However, lower back injuries forced him to miss time over the next two seasons which limited him to just 75 total games.
In 1993, Strawberry was once again arrested for assault allegations and said he contemplated suicide.
The next year, he missed a game and subsequently went missing for an entire day.
After this, he admitted to having a substance abuse problem and entered a rehabilitation center.
He was released by the Dodgers and then signed with the San Francisco Giants where he played just 29 games.
Strawberry couldn’t escape the problems though, as he tested positive for cocaine and was suspended for 60 days at the beginning of the 1995 season.
Strawberry Joins Yankees
In 1995, Strawberry signed with the New York Yankees and was placed on a tight leash by the organization.
He struggled, hitting just three home runs.
Because of this, he wasn’t offered an MLB contract for the start of the 1996 season.
He played well in an independent league, and the Yankees brought him back to the team.
Over 63 games, Strawberry hit 11 home runs and had 36 RBI.
He became a part of a Yankees team that won the World Series, as he hit .417 in the ALCS against the Orioles.
After an injury-shortened 1997 season, Strawberry came back in 1998 and played well.
In just 295 at-bats, he slugged 24 home runs.
May 2, 1998
Darryl Strawberry hits a pinch hit grand slam to extend the Yankees' lead pic.twitter.com/J2z883YDNk
— NY Yankees Throwbacks (@yankeethrowback) December 27, 2020
However, he was diagnosed with colon cancer that October and underwent surgery to remove a tumor.
In 1999, he was arrested for cocaine possession and suspended once again by the MLB.
While he returned to the team and contributed to their World Series run, it was the last time he’d play in the MLB.
The Final Downfall And Rebound
After the 1999 season, Strawberry once again tested positive for cocaine use.
MLB elected to suspended him for one year because of this.
In 2001, Strawberry was once again suicidal after he went on a four-day drug run.
He was sentenced to two-years in a substance treatment center but was ejected early as he violated rules on multiple occasions.
After violating probation, he served 18 months in jail.
Since then, Strawberry has become vocal in discussing his battles with depression, addiction and recovery.
I had a great talk with Darryl Strawberry about his new book “Turn Your Season Around”, which comes out in January. Straw’s book is really not about baseball but letting kids know about the evils of opioids.
Take a listen to our conversation.
— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) November 20, 2020
He has explained how much of it was caused by a rough upbringing with a father who was both verbally and physically abusive.
It is a sad story for one of the most talented, sweet-swinging players of all-time.
He had all the potential in the world, but his career was ultimately derailed by years of drug use and addiction.
If he were able to remain clean and consistent on the field, he had a true shot of challenging Hank Aaron’s home run record.