Just as it did when he first arrived in the major leagues 38 years ago, Darryl Strawberry’s name evokes awe. His picture-perfect left-handed swing that launched 335 home runs and drove 1,000 RBIs, remains one of baseball’s all-time pleasing memories.
But even at the height of his superstardom, the South Central, Los Angeles-born athlete suffered.
“My life was fractured,” Strawberry revealed in an interview with the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Black Press of America’s live morning news program, Let It Be Known. “Like many who come from the inner-city who didn’t have a male figure in their life— I didn’t have a father— my pain led me to my greatness, but my greatness would eventually lead me to destructive behavior,” the candid former slugger revealed.
Strawberry opens up even more in his new book, “Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life.” In the book written with author Lee Weeks, Strawberry, now an evangelist, explains how individuals heading in the wrong direction can move positively. He is candid, writing about tragedy, personal failure, and transforming injustice.
Despite winning four world championships with the New York Mets and New York Yankees, Strawberry fell victim to drug addiction, spent time in prison, and battled cancer. His co-author notes that, “Strawberry’s life story is proof that you can overcome life’s adversities one decision, one step at a time. It’s time to turn your season around.”
There were “lots of expectations about me when I first came up to the big leagues in 1983,” Strawberry recalled. “I always tell young people that expectations are not who you are. The only expectations you should have are for yourself and not what others put on you.”
With the sweetest of swings and five-tool talent, Strawberry faced the pressure of mounting expectations even as a teen. “I was the Black Ted Williams, the next Willie McCovey,” he told the Black Press during his 25-minute interview.
“It got to a place where I had to have confidence in myself and just be myself,” Strawberry continued. “You can’t be anyone else. God has made each of us unique.”
Because of his off-the-field challenges, Strawberry didn’t make the Hall of Fame. Now, as focused and determined to help others as he’s ever been, Strawberry shrugs off those who remind him of what he could have accomplished.
“I’m glad for my walk, my road,” Strawberry declared. “People say, ‘you could have been in the Hall of Fame,’ but look at me now. I am an evangelist, and I’m encouraging people about life. It all works out as long as we don’t quit.”
Strawberry’s new book, “Turn Your Season Around,” is available at most book-sellers, including amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.