Former World Series champion Darryl Strawberry has traded his baseball uniform for a pastor’s robe, leading a small congregation in Missouri. Few men are better fit to lead than Darryl. He’s survived abuse, cancer, and fame.
His abusive upbringing led to a wild youth. Partying nights led to sickness and cancer. He went to the top of Major League Baseball and came tumbling back to Earth. And yet, eight-time MLB All-Star Darryl Strawberry stands tall today.
The ordained minister stands in front of his congregation and preaches the Christian word. The man who used to sleep with strangers between innings now converts strangers as an evangelist.
Strawberry himself was converted, just like Saul on the road to Damascus.
Straw’s past is filled with professional life highs and personal life lows. These days, the only high Darryl needs is his higher power. You would, too, if you lived his life.
Early Life & MLB Career
Strawberry grew up in South Central, Los Angeles, California, under the rule of an abusive alcoholic father. He managed to channel his difficult home life into home runs at Crenshaw High School.
The right fielder was drafted as the first-overall pick by the New York Mets in 1980 after graduation. He worked his way through the minors to join the Mets in ’83.
Strawberry won the National League Rookie of the Year Award before playing in All-Star Game after All-Star Game. The slugger smashed home runs, Keith Hernandez, and RBIs during the 1980s – all because Mr. Burns told him to.
Strawberry’s career with the Mets was famous until substance abuse issues and troubles with Dwight Gooden turned it infamous. Those troubles would follow the free agent on a five-year deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then to the San Francisco Giants, and then back again to New York with the Yankees.
The All-Star was forced into retirement wearing Pinstripes in 2000 after a failed drug test.
It wasn’t the first time The Straw Man was caught with dirty urine.
Strawberry went through multiple marriages, jail cells, and rehabilitation clinics as he struggled. His run-ins with the law ultimately arrested his Hall of Fame career.
Cocaine, alcohol, and sex led him to a Narcotics Anonymous convention in Tampa in 2000. He met a woman there who changed his life forever.
Strawberry met his current wife Tracy in Florida while he was in a treatment center. She immediately saw past his baseball career and to the man in pain. Her sympathy proved crucial to Strawberry’s survival.
Over the next five years, she would stand by Darryl through multiple relapses, a divorce from his wife Charisse, and cancer surgery on Darryl’s kidney.
Surviving Cancer & Strawberry Ministries
Intertwined with his mental health and addiction problems, Darryl Strawberry also survived two fights with cancer.
Darryl underwent surgery to remove colon cancer in 1998. Two years later, doctors found it had spread to his lymph nodes as well. Darryl went under again, lost a kidney, but survived the cancer.
Times were as darker than dawn for Strawberry as he wrestled his demons and failing health. Things got so bad that ESPN reported his death in 2001. Darryl reluctantly survived, and Tracy was invaluable to his recovery.
Reverend Darryl Strawberry is a cancer and drug addiction survivor. He heads a Christian outreach group called Strawberry Ministries that spreads the Word of God while raising money for addiction & autism research & support.
He preaches in St. Peters, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.
Darryl Strawberry has come a long way from Southern California to Eastern Missouri. But if you ask Darryl, this was God’s plan for The Straw Man all along.