Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Darryl Strawberry was one of the most feared sluggers in Major League Baseball. At 6’6” he was known for his intimidating presence in the batter’s box and his extraordinary home runs.
During his 17-year career, he helped lead the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986 and the New York Yankees to three World Series championships in 1996, 1998 and 1999. A popular player during his career, Strawberry was voted to the All-Star Game eight straight times from 1984-1991.
As great as he was on the baseball field, he struggled for many years with a devastating drug and alcohol addiction.
In this very candid interview Strawberry tells me all about how God came to rescue him and alter his darkness forever. Now an ordained minister, Strawberry and his wife Tracy have hit a “home run” with Darryl Strawberry Ministries, and have committed to help restore the lives of others struggling to survive the game of life.
Darryl Stawberry helped his teams win several championships when he was playing baseball, but he had struggles which he shares in a new book, The Imperfect Marriage.
Q: Based on your experiences with drugs, alcohol and overcoming them, what do you tell kids who are thinking about doing drugs and alcohol?
A: A success plan in life shouldn’t include alcohol or drugs. Let’s be realistic about this. Turn on the TV and look at many of the Hollywood people, entertainers and athletes and where they are right now. Drug and alcohol abuse leads you down the wrong road. It changes you as a person. The devil is a deceiver and is trying to use those destructive forces on young people in this world.
God says the truth will set you free, and there’s nothing like studying His Word. Young people: seek after God yourself, and you’ll find the truth. God loves you. He has a great passion for you and a plan for your life. For me and sports, it used to be about championships, about winning. Now it’s about eternal things, knowing God.
Q: Your wife Tracy sounds like she helped you get to the real issue – your heart problem – a spiritual problem.
A: She helped change my life. Thirteen years ago we met in a convention in South Florida. We started dating, and she went through some very hard times with me. I was saved in 1991 and knew the Bible, but I was running from God. We decided to start over, leave South Florida and go back to St. Louis.
We got married and starting walking with God together. She is remarkable, and led me back to my faith. I always tell people it’s awesome to have a great woman who loves Jesus.
Q: At Sold Out Ministry, we work with students today and warn them about the dangers of alcohol and drug use and about the importance of knowing that the only way to stay safe is to never do it the first time. But after all those years of struggling, was it the spiritual change that completely freed you?
A: You’re right. You know recovery works but it was really difficult for me to focus because of my celebrity status.
I would go to meetings and have real trouble focusing on what was wrong with me. It wasn’t until I went back to God, started attending church again that I started to understand. I began to study the Word hard, and I did that for five years. I was visiting my pastor, reading my Bible and continuing to surrender my life.
I began to do things different. I really came out of the world, and started to do it God’s way.
Q: It’s exciting to see how God radically changed your life. How can people find you and get involved with your ministry?
A: You can go online to strawberryministries.org. You can check out all the things that we do. For Tracy and I, it’s all about changing lives. It is not about us. So check this out!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman’s Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: [email protected].)