Strawberry's story has a happy ending

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Ask former baseball great Darryl Strawberry about baseball, football or any other sport, and you won't get an answer.

"I don't care about sports, period," Strawberry said. "I don't follow anything outside of what my kids might be doing. ... I am no longer that person. I left that a long time ago. (Playing baseball) is not what I am. It is what I loved."

Instead, what you'll get from Strawberry is a story of success and struggles — of God and sobriety.

Strawberry had it all in 17 seasons, mostly with the Mets and Yankees, where he hit 335 home runs and 1,000 RBIs — and lost it all because of substance abuse and other vices.

And that's what people will hear at 11 a.m. today during a luncheon today at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History. The event will benefit Team Mental Health Services of Dearborn.

Strawberry, 52, was addicted to life as a star.

He was rookie of the year in 1983, won three World Series titles with the Yankees (1996, 1998 and 1999), one with the Mets (1986) and made eight All-Star teams.

But his nights were filled with drugs, alcohol, women and fast cars. He was charged with soliciting a prostitute, filing false police reports and fleeing house arrest. He also was suspended by baseball in 1995 for using cocaine,

And then he hit rock bottom. Strawberry stuck a needle into his arm to inject heroin.

"I was suffering because of my surroundings, and I did not allow God to be the center of my life," said Strawberry, a St. Louis area minister. "Most people that do not cross over and get the addiction out of their lives have to surrender. You have to surrender to get control of your life."

Strawberry, however, didn't get complete control of his life until he married his third wife, Tracy.

"I have been transformed through my faith in Christ," said Strawberry, who runs the Strawberry Ministry in St. Louis with his wife. "I am living an entirely different life. During my days of playing baseball I didn't worry about anything. Everybody said yes to you. I'm no longer living that life. I don't surround myself with women, drugs, bars, none of that.

"My life, the last 10 years with the ministry, my wife and bringing restoration into my life has been fantastic. It has made my life whole and restored."

Inaugural Recovery Conference

When: 11 a.m. today, Charles Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit

Sponsor: Team Mental Health Services and Team Wellness Center