Baseball great to share his story of downfall and rebirth
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
If everyone's life were divided according to chapters, Darryl Strawberry's would stretch far enough to fill several chapters of the thickest book imaginable, and what a read it would be.
The book would begin with his ascension as a young baseball player from the inner city of Los Angeles in the late 1970s to becoming the first-round draft choice of the New York Mets in 1980. The next chapter would tell of his rise to the top of his profession – a pencil-thin prototype slugger with a whip-quick bat who had his photograph regularly on the back pages of the New York tabloids, and helped lead the Mets to the 1986 World Series championship.
He was the Straw Man, and he was on top of the world.
Over the course of the next ten years, despite a brief resurrection as a member of the World Champion New York Yankees in the late 1990s, Strawberry's career went slowly to pieces, and his life collapsed in drug addiction, alcoholism, a messy divorce that went public, convictions, jail time and, the most jarring strike of all, his fight with cancer.
By 2003, just four years after he retired from baseball with 335 lifetime home runs, Strawberry had spiraled so out of control that many of his closest friends believed he would not survive to see the other side of 50.
While attending a rehabilitation center, Strawberry met a young woman named Tracy who was also struggling with her own demons of addiction. She was a twice-divorced single mother of three boys, and by the time she entered treatment, she saw her downward spiral as similar in severity to Strawberry's. Together, step by step, they eventually re-emerged, wholly committed not only to living dedicated lives, but to each other.
Strawberry, 53, and his wife Tracy operate Strawberry Ministries to deliver a message of hope, strength and practical ways to change your life through the power of God and the process of change. Today, their mission takes them to medical centers, correctional facilities, community centers, places of faith and schools all around the country.
On Sept. 13, in cooperation with the Freedom Life Church, the public will be invited to hear Strawberry speak at the Freedom Life Christiana Campus meeting at Octorara High School, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
In between, Strawberry will also speak at the Rainbow Elementary School, 1113 West Lincoln Highway in Coatesville, begining at 10 a.m.
Pastor Strawberry will return to Freedom Life on Oct. 4, when he will speak at the Freedom Life Centre County location, at 113 Sunset Acres in Milesburg, at 9 and 11 a.m.
The couple's mission to help heal lives doesn't end with speaking engagements. They also co-founded The Darryl Strawberry Treatment Program in Orlando, Fla., a 28-day residential Christian counseling program designed to treat substance abuse. The program provides medical detoxification followed by primary treatment, including a one-year care plan, based on the needs of each client.
They have also co-authored the book, "The Imperfect Marriage: For Those Who Think It's Over," a no-holds-barred account of their journey from drug addiction to sobriety to selfless dedication.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.