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Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry
Date of birth: March 12, 1962 (1962-03-12) (age 62)
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB Debut
May 6, 1983 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
October 17, 1999 for the New York Yankees
Career information
High school: Crenshaw
(Los Angeles, California)
MLB Draft: 1980 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st
by the New York Mets
Career highlights and awards
  • 8x MLB All-Star
  • 1983 NL Rookie of the Year
  • 2x NL Silver Slugger (1988, 1990)

Darryl Eugene Strawberry (born March 12, 1962) is a former baseball player who is well-known both for his play on the baseball field and for his controversial behavior off of it. He was born to Monica and Michael Strawberry and lived a middle-class suburban life with his family.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Strawberry was one of the most feared sluggers in the game, known for his prodigious home runs and his intimidating presence in the batter's box with his 6-foot-6 frame and his long, looping swing. During his 17-year career, he helped lead the New York Mets to one World Series championship in 1986 and the New York Yankees to three World Series championships in 1996, 1998, 1999.

A popular player during his career, Strawberry was voted to the All-Star Game eight straight times from 1984–1991.

Background and early career[]

Strawberry, a native of Los Angeles who played high school baseball for the Crenshaw High School Cougars along with Chris Brown, and against Eric Davis at Fremont High and Chili Davis at Dorsey High (all future fellow big leaguers), was drafted first overall in the 1980 draft by the New York Mets. At the time, Strawberry was considered a "can't miss" player, and the best power-hitting prospect to come out of high school.

Employing a distinctive batting stance with a high leg kick, Strawberry rose through the Mets system and reached the major league level in 1983, posting 26 home runs, 7 triples, and 74 runs batted in, while hitting for a .257 average. He was named the National League's Rookie of The Year. In 1984, he made it to the All-Star game for the first time, and once again hit 26 home runs, this time driving in 97.

The prime years[]

Strawberry's Mets from 1984–1990 formed one of the premier teams in the National League, finishing either first or second in the division every year. But as good as the Mets were on the field, they constantly feuded off the field. Despite this, Strawberry remained an iconic figure in not only New York City, but across America. He was loathed by opposing fans, but beloved by New Yorkers and young fans across the country.

During the period from 1983 to 1990, Strawberry was very popular, with his image used on action figures (Kenner's Starting Lineup), posters and banners. He was also known for his disruptive behavior. He got into a physical altercation on team picture day with team captain Keith Hernandez[1] and in the midst of a war of words with infielder Wally Backman, threatened to "bust that little redneck in the face". He often overslept and was late or missed team workouts. He publicly complained about Manager Davey Johnson after he was lifted for Kevin Mitchell in a double switch during the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, just minutes after their improbable comeback from the brink of elimination to win the game.

In 1985, despite missing 40 games due to an injury to his right thumb, he hit 29 home runs but the Mets fell 5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL East.

In 1986, Strawberry hit 27 homers and had 99 RBIs as the Mets won the 1986 World Series.

In 1987, Strawberry hit 39 home runs and stole 36 bases, joining the exclusive 30-30 club, at the time becoming one of only 10 players in baseball history to accomplish the feat. In addition to that, he hit 32 doubles and drove in 104 runs. Despite this, the Mets barely missed the playoffs.

In 1988, Strawberry once again hit 39 home runs to lead the National League. He also drove in 101 runs and led the league in slugging percentage at .545 and OPS at .911. He finished a very close second in MVP voting to the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson. Strawberry led the Mets to the playoffs, losing to the Dodgers in seven games in the National League championship series.

In 1989, Strawberry's offensive numbers declined: He had 29 home runs and 77 runs batted, but only had a .225 average. Nevertheless, the Mets came in a close second place to the Chicago Cubs in the National League East.

In 1990, Strawberry hit 37 home runs, while driving in 108 runs and batting for a .277 average. His Mets, however, came once again in a close second place in the NL's east, losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates by three games.

Strawberry signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991, inking a lucrative five-year $22.25 million contract. In California, he was named Big Brother of The Year for that year. After hitting 28 home runs and bringing in 99 runs batted in a successful first year for the Dodgers, injuries and personal problems kept him sidelined for much of the next two seasons, hitting five home runs in each season.

After the 1991 season in which he was only 29 years old he had 280 lifetime homers, drawing comparisons to home run king Hank Aaron. Even with those statistics many baseball observers still felt he was a lazy underachiever.[citation needed] After that season his personal problems escalated and he would not hit his 300th homer for another 6 years.[citation needed]

His later years[]

In 1994, he was released in May by the Dodgers and signed with the San Francisco Giants, where he saw limited playing time as he tried to make a comeback, hitting only four home runs and driving in 17 runs that year.

After a suspension from the league at the beginning of 1995 due to his involvement with cocaine[1], Strawberry signed with the New York Yankees for the stretch run. The next year, Darryl signed with the Saint Paul Saints of the Northern League on May 3, 1996 in an attempt to rehabilitate. On June 2 the Saints were to face the Duluth-Superior Dukes at Wade Stadium. It was at that time that the Straw hit his first home run for the Saints, at a distance of 522' off of pitcher Pat Ahearne.[2] Soon thereafter, he found himself back with the Yankees who signed him on July 4, 1996.

With the Yankees, he showed flashes of his former brilliance, as he hit forty-two homers in his first year, but had 11 home runs and helped his team win the World Series in 1996, alongside former Mets teammates Dwight Gooden and David Cone. In 1997, he did not have any home runs, with his playing time limited by injuries. But in 1998, he had 24 home runs, once again helping the Yankees win the World Series. This was also the year he was diagnosed with colon cancer.[3] In 1999, he made a comeback from his cancer treatment, but saw limited playing time, hitting 3 home runs. He was unable to perform in the playoffs.

Strawberry attended the Mets' 1986 World Champion team reunion on August 19, 2006, where he and the rest of the team received a standing ovation from fans at Shea Stadium in an on-field ceremony.[4]

Strawberry worked as an instructor for the New York Mets in 2005.

Strawberry threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Shea Stadium before Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 12, 2006. He was given a rousing ovation by the Shea Stadium crowd. He is now an anchor on the Mets pre and post game shows on SNY.

Of the 10 postseason series Strawberry played in, he was on the winning team eight times. In 40 postseason games, Strawberry belted nine home runs with 22 RBIs and 20 runs scored. While playing with the Yankees, Strawberry helped carry his team past the Baltimore Orioles in the 1996 ALCS as he blasted three home runs with five RBIs and a .417 average in four games.

Strawberry was the starting right fielder five straight times and appeared at nine All-Star games. Strawberry batted .333 with two stolen bases and two runs in 12 career All-Star at-bats.

See also[]

References[]

  1. Darryl Strawberry Chronology.
  2. Darryl Strawberry Info
  3. ESPN biography of Darryl Strawberry. Retrieved on 2006-07-12.
  4. Olson, Lisa (2006-08-20). Reunion like it oughta be. New York Daily News. Retrieved on 2006-08-21.

External links[]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by:
Al Chambers
First overall pick in the MLB Entry Draft
1980
Succeeded by:
Mike Moore
Preceded by:
Steve Sax
National League Rookie of the Year
1983
Succeeded by:
Dwight Gooden
Preceded by:
Dave Parker
Home Run Derby Champion
1986
Succeeded by:
Andre Dawson
Preceded by:
Andre Dawson
National League Player of the Month
September 1987
Succeeded by:
Bobby Bonilla
Preceded by:
Andre Dawson
National League Home Run Champion
1988
Succeeded by:
Kevin Mitchell
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