Darryl Strawberry

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File:Darryl Strawberry.jpg
Darryl Strawberry on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1986.

Darryl Eugene Strawberry (born March 12, 1962) is a former baseball player who is well known both for his play in the baseball field and for his controversial behavior outside of it. His batting stance employed a distinctive high leg kick.

Background and Early Career

Strawberry, a native of Los Angeles who played high school baseball for the Crenshaw High Cougars along with Chris Brown, and against Eric Davis at Fremont High and Chili Davis at Dorsey High (all future fellow big leaguers), was drafted first overall in the 1980 draft by the New York Mets. Some baseball critics had anointed him as the black Ted Williams by then. In New York, he began to play in the MLB level in 1983, posting 26 home runs, hitting 7 triples and bringing in 74 runs, while hitting for a .257 average that year. He was named the National League's Rookie of The Year. In 1984, he made it to the All-Star game, and once again, he hit 26 home runs, while bringing in 97 runs.

The Prime Years

In 1987, Strawberry almost became the first man in baseball history to surpass 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in one year, when he hit 39 home runs and stole 37 bases. In addition to that, he hit 32 doubles and drove in 104 runs. Despite this, the Mets failed to reach the playoffs.

In 1988, Strawberry once again hit 39 home runs and drove in 101 runs. The Mets reached the playoffs, losing to the Dodgers in the National League championship series.

In 1989, Strawberry's offensive numbers went down: He only had 29 home runs and 77 runs batted in. Nevertheless, the Mets came in a close second place to the Chicago Cubs in the National League East. In 1990, Strawberry hit 37 home runs, while bringing in 108 runs and batting for a .277 average. His Mets, however, came once again in a close second place in the NL's east, losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates by two games.

During the period from 1983 to 1990, Strawberry was very popular, with such things as action figures (Kenner's Starting Lineup), posters and banners of him being produced.

Strawberry signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991, signing a very lucrative contract with that team. In California, he was named Big Brother of The Year for that year. It was while playing in Los Angeles, however, that his personal life problems started to surface: He was accused there of domestic violence by his wife, and, in a widely publicized incident, he suggested that he wanted Los Angeles to burn in hell. After hitting 28 home runs and bringing in 99 runs batted in his first year there, his offensive numbers also suffered, and he hit only 10 home runs for the next two years.

His Later Years

In 1994, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants, where his offensive numbers continued to go downwards, hitting only four home runs and bringing in only 17 runs that year. Soon, he found himself back in New York, as the New York Yankees signed him.

With the Yankees, he showed flashes of his former brilliance, as he hit only three homers in his first year, but had 11 home runs and helped his team win the World Series in 1996, alongside former Mets teammate Gooden. In 1997, he did not have any home runs, his playing time limited by injuries, but in 1998, he had 24 home runs, once again helping the Yankees win the World Series. This was also the year he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and he and some other members of his family opened a record label. In 1999, he only hit 3 home runs, but the Yankees once again were baseball's world champions.

Strawberry was said to be talented enough to break Babe Ruth's home run record, but due to personal problems, he was merely good. Strawberry still managed to be an 8-time all-star, and each time his teams reached the World Series, Strawberry played for the winning team. He retired with 335 home runs, 1000 RBI, and a career .505 slugging percentage.

Legal and Personal Problems

  • On January 29, 1987, Strawberry's wife, Lisa, filed for a legal separation from him in a Los Angeles court. She also accused him of breaking her nose after a game the previous October. On May 18, 1989, she filed for divorce in Los Angeles. On October 15, 1993, they divorced. The couple had two children together.
  • On April 7, 1989, Strawberry was sued in Clayton, Missouri by Lisa Clayton (not to be confused with his wife, Lisa Andrews) claiming that he is the father of Clayton's son. On January 24, 1990, blood tests proved that Strawberry was indeed the boy's father.
  • On January 26, 1990, two days after blood tests proved he fathered another woman's child, Strawberry was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly slapping his wife, Lisa, and threatening her with a handgun. On March 9, attorneys announced that no charges would be filed.
  • On February 3, 1990, shortly after being arrested for hitting and threatening his wife, Strawberry checked into alcohol rehab.
  • On September 4, 1993, Strawberry was arrested for hitting his girlfriend, Charisse Simon, who was three-months pregnant at the time. Reportedly, witnesses said she had been hitting him with a bat near where he had earlier had surgery. She later refused to press charges and, on December 3, they were married. They now have three children.
  • On April 3, 1994, Strawberry was absent from a baseball game and was not found until that night. The next day, the Dodgers announced that he had a substance abuse problem. Four days later, Strawberry began four weeks in the Betty Ford Center.
  • On December 8, 1994, Strawberry and his agent were indicted for failing to report more than $300,000 of income from autograph and memorabilia shows. On April 24, 1995, Strawberry was ordered to repay $350,000 in back taxes and sentenced to six months of home confinement.
  • On February 6, 1995, Strawberry was suspended for 60 days by Major League Baseball after testing positive for cocaine. He was released by the San Francisco Giants on the same day.
  • On December 11, 1995, Strawberry was charged in California with failing to make child support payments. When he missed a June 24, 1996 deadline to pay the child support, a Los Angeles judge set a trial date of July 5, at which time Strawberry agreed to use his signing bonus to pay the debt. [1]
  • On August 20, 1998, Strawberry was sued by attorney Robert Shapiro for unpaid legal fees related to baseball contract negotiations in 1994. The two resolved the dispute on March 25, 1999.
  • On October 1, 1998, Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer. Two days later, he had surgery to remove a tumor and 16 inches of his colon. On October 9, doctors announced that cancer had been detected in a lymph node so he would also have to undergo chemotherapy. [2]
  • On April 14, 1999, Strawberry was arrested in Tampa, Florida for soliciting sex from a policewoman posing as a prostitute and for having a small amount of cocaine. On April 24, he was suspended for 120 days by Major League Baseball for the incident. On May 26, he pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 18 months probation and community service. [3]
  • On January 19, 2000, Strawberry tested positive for cocaine. On February 28, shortly after the test result was announced, Major League Baseball announced that he would be suspended for one year. Two days later, he was in rehab.
  • On July 28, 2000, a C.T. scan suggested that Strawberry's cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. The next month, he had surgery to remove a tumor and a kidney on August 7. [4]
  • On September 11, 2000, in Tampa, Strawberry tried to drive to see his probation officer after taking painkillers. While driving, he blacked out, rear-ended another car and then tried to drive away. An off-duty police officer witnessed the episode and arrested him at gunpoint. The next day, Strawberry admitted to the charges and his probation was changed to two years of house arrest. On November 21, he was sentenced to a year of probation and community service. [5]
  • On October 25, 2000, Strawberry left a Tampa drug treatment center to use drugs with a female friend violating his house arrest and parole. On November 9, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail with credit for time served. [6]
  • On November 3, 2000, Strawberry told a judge in Tampa that he had lost his will to live and had stopped chemotherapy. On November 14, he was released from jail and sent back to rehab. [7]
  • On April 2, 2001, Strawberry was arrested for again disappearing from his house arrest drug treatment center in Tampa. On May 17, he was sentenced to more time at a drug treatment center. [8]
  • On March 12, 2002, Strawberry was back in jail for violating several non-drug rules at the drug treatment center where he was on probation in Ocala, Florida. On April 29, he was ordered to serve the 18-month suspended prison sentence from 1999. [9]
  • On September 17, 2005, Strawberry reported his sport utility vehicle had been stolen from a Delray Beach, Florida gas station but the station's surveillance video showed Strawberry leaving as a passenger in another vehicle. A tipster then told police that Strawberry had earlier left his SUV behind a sports bar and given her the keys. He was later charged with filing a false police report. Until this episode, Strawberry seemed to be on the road to turning things around, finding Christianity and becoming involved in Without Walls International Church.
  • On October 7, 2005, Strawberry's second wife, Charisse, filed for divorce in Hillsborough County, Florida court. [10]

Additional Details

His son, D.J. Strawberry, is now a college basketball player at the University of Maryland. D.J. claims he and Darryl have very little contact and Darryl is a non factor in his life because he wasn't there for him when he was younger.

Strawberry appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated seven times: five times by himself, once with Don Mattingly, and once with Dwight Gooden.

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