Darryl Strawberry had it all—talent, stardom, accolades and money.
He lost it all, and admittedly wanted to die.
That’s when he found God and turned his life around.
Strawberry spoke of the power of the gospel and brought a message of redemption to historic Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin on Sunday evening ahead of the Joplin Outlaws game with the St. Joseph Mustangs.
The featured speaker at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Legacy Banquet, the former Major League Baseball superstar told the assembled crowd about overcoming his struggles in life by finding faith in the Lord.
“I was a liar,” Strawberry said. “I was a cheater. I was a womanizer. I was an alcoholic. I was a drug addict. I was a sinner. I was rich. I was famous. I had it all. But I had nothing on the inside. I was missing the most important thing…without Jesus we’re nothing. I was saved by grace. It’s the grace of God that can save a man. No man can save himself. God wasn’t concerned with my baseball career. He was concerned that all would be well in my soul.”
One of the game’s biggest stars during his prime, Strawberry spent 17 seasons in the big leagues and played for four World Series champions — 1986 with the New York Mets and 1996, ’98 and ’99 with the New York Yankees.
An eight-time all-star and the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year who hit 335 career home runs, Strawberry struggled with substance abuse during and after his MLB playing days, spent time in prison and battled cancer on two occasions.
Before he gained almost immediate stardom as a young player with the Mets, Strawberry grew up in a dysfunctional south-central Los Angeles home with an abusive father.
“I was already broken before I ever put a baseball uniform on,” he said. “My pain led me to my greatness. But my greatness would eventually lead me to my destructive behavior.
“My mother raised me right, but I made the decision to live a heathen life and I nearly lost my life,” Strawberry added. “What I did on the field doesn’t come close to what Jesus has for you. He’s got a plan and a purpose.”
After his playing days ended, Strawberry reached his lowest point as he struggled with his demons.
“I wanted to die,” he said. “My wife (Tracy) was pulling me out of dope houses and I told her, ‘Just leave me here and let me die.’ She said God had a plan for me.
“My fame couldn’t save me,” Strawberry continued. “My money couldn’t save me. I had to come to the foot of the cross to be truly saved. I had to surrender. I was saved by grace. God took the mess of who I was and turned it into a message for his glory.”
Strawberry, who now lives just outside of St. Louis, has been preaching for more than a decade now, hoping to inspire others with his life story.
“Being born again is the greatest gift,” he said. “It’s the best thing I’ve achieved. God called me to preach the gospel. I am standing as living proof that God called me from a pit to a pulpit. That’s how incredible He is. If you’re faithful to God and you’re accountable and teachable, God can do some wonderful things in your life.”
CJ’S BAKER RECOGNIZED
Luke Cole, Southwest Missouri’s area director of FCA, recognized recent Carl Junction High School graduate Alex Baker as the Tom Hodge FCA Legacy Scholarship recipient on Sunday. Baker was a multi-sport standout for the Bulldogs.