Former major league star Darryl Strawberry had many stories of success on the field and many struggles away from it during his career.
But he has made the transition nicely from player to minister, and that was the focus of his trip to Mercer for Tuesday’s First Pitch Classic. Strawberry, an eight-time all-star, was the featured speaker at the seventh annual event.
“Just really helping people, more than anything,” Strawberry said before the event of his focus, “and hoping that people can understand they have a purpose for life and not just about sports, but God has a great plan for them.”
Strawberry was the NL rookie of the year in 1983 after being selected with the first pick in the 1980 draft by the New York Mets. He finished with 335 home runs and 1,000 RBI in his 17-year career and was a member of four World Series championship teams.
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He said he has two recovery treatment centers, one in Texas and one in Florida, and his ministry’s website is strawberryministries.org.
“It’s a platform,” Strawberry said. “I didn’t realize that there would be a platform to use after baseball because a lot of times when you see athletes that are great, they can never cross over from taking off the uniform. It’s important to understand once the uniform is off, you have to find a new identity.”
Strawberry’s son Jordan is a freshman on Bob Hoffman’s Mercer basketball team, while his daughter Jade is a sophomore on the Connecticut volleyball team.
“I just try to tell all my kids that sports are fun and to really work hard, play hard and believe in yourself,” Strawberry said. “The most important thing is having confidence in yourself when you play, and that’s what I teach my kids. I don’t push them or drive them into the ground because no one did that to me, except for the coaches that I had. I allow the coaches to be the coaches and coach my kids. I never really wanted to be a parent who coached my kids. I want the coaches to coach them and push them to the next level they need to get to.
“I’m very proud, really grateful that (Jordan is) here and has the opportunity at Mercer with Coach Hoffman and his staff and just everything that they have done for him.”