Power-hitting outfielder Darryl Strawberry was one of baseball’s biggest stars in the 1980s before his career was derailed by substance-abuse problems.
Darryl Strawberry was born on March 12, 1962, in Los Angeles. Strawberry was a star for the New York Mets in the 1980s and a popular part-timer with the crosstown Yankees in the '90s. His career was derailed by substance-abuse problems that led to a prison sentence, but he found new life afterward as an instructor, philanthropist and restaurant owner.
Early Life: Beginning of Pro Career
Born on March 12, 1962, in Los Angeles, Darryl Strawberry was a gifted athlete with a fluid, powerful swing, at a young age. Taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1980 amateur draft, Strawberry quickly lived up to lofty expectations.
Just 21 when he made his big league debut in 1983, Strawberry swatted 26 home runs and stole 19 bases to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Three years later, he rang up 27 homers, 93 RBIs and 28 stolen bases for a talented but combustible Mets team that won 108 regular-season games and a thrilling World Series over the Boston Red Sox.
Strawberry enjoyed perhaps his finest overall season in 1987, when he blasted a team-record 39 home runs and stole 36 bases to join baseball's exclusive 30-30 club. He led his league with another 39 homers and a .545 slugging percentage in 1988, earning a second-place finish in voting for the NL Most Valuable Player Award.
Strawberry signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1990 season. He enjoyed initial success with his hometown club (28 HR, 99 RBIs in '91), but injuries and personal problems limited his playing time and production in two more seasons with the Dodgers and one with the San Francisco Giants.
In 1995, Strawberry returned to New York as a member of the Yankees. He starred in the 1996 and '99 playoffs for the Bronx Bombers, and knocked 24 homers for the '98 club that won a then-AL record 114 regular-season games.
Strawberry finished his career with 335 home runs, 1,000 RBIs and eight All-Star selections.
Strawberry began drinking heavily and using cocaine early in his career, which, combined with a tumultuous marriage to his first wife, Lisa, led to a series of troubling incidents.
In January 1987, Lisa filed for legal separation on the grounds that Strawberry broke her nose, though the couple remained together. Three years later, Strawberry was arrested for alleged assault with a deadly weapon during an argument with Lisa, and checked into an alcohol treatment center.
In April 1994, Strawberry entered another center for treatment of cocaine abuse. Still, he tested positive for cocaine the following year, earning the first of three suspensions from Major League Baseball for use of the substance. During the same time period, he pleaded guilty to failing to report several hundred thousand dollars in income earned from autograph shows and other promotional events from 1986-90.
Strawberry also encountered serious health setbacks along the way. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in October 1998, which required surgery and chemotherapy treatments. He experienced a relapse and underwent more surgery in August 2000.
Strawberry was in and out of drug-treatment centers for much of the late '90s and early 2000s, but he went AWOL from one program multiple times and was kicked out of another, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison for probation violations in April 2002.
The Road to Salvation
Strawberry regained some stability in his life following his release from prison in 2003.
He met his third wife, Tracy, at a Narcotics Anonymous convention, and they married in 2006. Both highly active members of their church community, they formed the Darryl Strawberry Foundation to raise funds for autism research.
Strawberry served as a spring training instructor and broadcast analyst with the Mets. He was voted into the Mets' Hall of Fame in 2010, and appeared at Old-Timers' Day festivities for the Yankees.
In 2010, he opened Strawberry's Sports Grill in Douglaston, Queens, but the sports bar closed in October 2012.