Former slugger Strawberry speaks about addiction struggles

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]
Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
‘If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,’ former New York Mets and Yankees Slugger Darryl Strawberry tells a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.” - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Christian Crowley, 15, of Sweet Valley gets an autograph and photo with former Major League baseball great Daryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Ken Falco of Roaring Brook, poses with retired baseball player Darryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
‘If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,’ former New York Mets and Yankees Slugger Darryl Strawberry tells a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.” - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Christian Crowley, 15, of Sweet Valley gets an autograph and photo with former Major League baseball great Daryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Ken Falco of Roaring Brook, poses with retired baseball player Darryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

PLAINS TWP. — For Darryl Strawberry, pain led to greatness, but his greatness also led to disruptive behavior.

“If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,” the former New York Mets and Yankees slugger told a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.”

Strawberry, 56, was a keynote speaker for the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo 2018, an event organized by the county’s human services division to spotlight issues ranging from grandparents raising grandchildren to addiction and mental illness.

The veteran ballplayer spoke for more than 35 minutes during his appearance at The Woodlands Inn & Resort, describing his painful childhood and battles with addiction.

“I grew up in a dysfunctional home, with an alcoholic father that would beat me and tell me that I wouldn’t amount to anything,” Strawberry said. “I was already broken before I put the baseball uniform on.”

He also described his pathway to getting clean and his mission to help others.

“Baseball was an outlet,” the four-time World Series winner said. “Just because I put on a uniform didn’t make me a man, it just made me a baseball player.”

Strawberry recalled former teammate Gary Carter as the one who showed him what it meant be a man.

“I’ll never forget how successful he was. Fame, fortune, he had it all. But what I remember most was his character, the character of a man,” Strawberry said of Carter, who died of brain cancer in 2012.

“I saw him give his life to others and I wanted that when I was young but I just didn’t have the tools to do that,” Strawberry said. “But as I got older, all I could remember was how he treated people.”

“Life is about how you really treat people and how you act when nobody’s looking. That’s what really counts as people,” he added.

Strawberry said his addiction caused him to ruin two marriages, six children and a stop in a Florida state prison. “I’m grateful I had to go to where I could to get where I am today to help people,” he said.

Without his third and current wife, Tracy, Strawberry doubts he would be clean today.

“I’m grateful for the grace I didn’t deserve. That’s why I will make sure for the rest of my days that I will try to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Since getting clean, Strawberry established the Darryl Strawberry Foundation in 2006, which helps autistic children as well as founding the Darryl Strawberry recovery center for drug and alcohol treatment in 2014.

“You tell your story to bring hope to other people,” he said. “There’s always hope for you. We’ve gotten away from that saying that people are hopeless and that’s part of why we are in the epidemic we are in. These kids lives are important.

“This is the most difficult generation that we will ever deal with and they are the most loving kids that I’ve ever met,” said about the children in today’s drug and alcohol epidemic. “They are so wonderful, but they are so hurt and broken and deal with the rejection.”

“The real problem lies at what happened to them, not why they are using,” Strawberry added. “As parents, as friends, we need to show our love.”

After Strawberry’s speech he took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with guests.

“It takes a community of people to come together and work together,” Strawberry said. “The most important thing when working with people who are struggling is to just love them.”

Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-1.jpgFormer Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

‘If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,’ former New York Mets and Yankees Slugger Darryl Strawberry tells a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.”
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-2.jpg‘If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,’ former New York Mets and Yankees Slugger Darryl Strawberry tells a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.” Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-3.jpgFormer Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Christian Crowley, 15, of Sweet Valley gets an autograph and photo with former Major League baseball great Daryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-4.jpgChristian Crowley, 15, of Sweet Valley gets an autograph and photo with former Major League baseball great Daryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Ken Falco of Roaring Brook, poses with retired baseball player Darryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-5.jpgKen Falco of Roaring Brook, poses with retired baseball player Darryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-1CMYK.jpgFormer Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

‘If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,’ former New York Mets and Yankees Slugger Darryl Strawberry tells a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.”
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-2CMYK.jpg‘If you’re broken all you want to do is fit in,’ former New York Mets and Yankees Slugger Darryl Strawberry tells a Luzerne County audience Wednesday night. “I started doing drugs when I made my Major League Baseball debut by doing cocaine, so I could fit in.” Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Former Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-3CMYK.jpgFormer Major League baseball player Daryl Strawberry addresses guests at the Luzerne County Cares Community Expo at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Christian Crowley, 15, of Sweet Valley gets an autograph and photo with former Major League baseball great Daryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-4CMYK.jpgChristian Crowley, 15, of Sweet Valley gets an autograph and photo with former Major League baseball great Daryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Ken Falco of Roaring Brook, poses with retired baseball player Darryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_Daryl-Strawberry-5CMYK.jpgKen Falco of Roaring Brook, poses with retired baseball player Darryl Strawberry at the Woodlands Inn & Resort on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

By Dan Stokes

[email protected]

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes