Thu Apr 18th, 2013
Special to the Drum
Approaching the 30th anniversary of his professional debut, four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry will speak of his ups, downs and way-downs in baseball and life on Friday, April 19 at Fort Lewis College.
Whalen Gymnasium’s doors will open at 5:45 p.m. for the free-admission event, in which Strawberry is expected to discuss his successes, trials and tribulations – including substance abuse, prison, and cancer requiring removal of vital organs – and his current outlook after experiencing it all.
His talk will precede the next day’s 9 a.m. dedication of the Alpine Bank Youth Sports Complex, located off County Road 210 north of Durango’s Bodo Industrial Park. All donations received at Whalen will go to benefit La Plata County Search and Rescue.
Drafted No. 1 overall in 1980 by the New York Mets out of Crenshaw (Los Angeles) High School, Strawberry reached the bigs in ’83 and would earn the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award after hitting 26 homers and seven triples, driving in 74 runs, despite a .257 batting average.
At the end of his 17-year career, he would aid the American League’s N.Y. Yankees to World Series wins in ’96, ’98 and ’99, but might be best remembered as being key – along with teammate Dwight Gooden – to the Mets’ famed seven-game Series triumph in 1986 over the Boston Red Sox.
Strawberry’s major-league arrival on May 6, 1983, was memorable as well: a 7-4 Mets win at Shea Stadium in 13 innings over Cincinnati, in which ex-Red great George Foster smacked a walk-off, three-run homer. Strawberry went 0-for-4, but did draw two bases-on-balls to help the cause.
In 1986, Strawberry’s 27-homer, 93-RBI regular-season productivity powered New York to a team-best 108-54 record and into the postseason.
After 1991, “Straw” had hit 280 homers and, at age 29, began drawing the inevitable projections to then-king Hank Aaron’s iconic 755. As fans know, it ultimately took a man named Bonds to top that total, but Strawberry would still finish his stretch with an impressive 335 dingers and an even 1,000 runs batted in.