Mar 11, 2016

All Time Mets HR Leader: Daryl Strawberry: Part Two (1987-1990 & Beyond)

In 1987 as the Mets raised the Championship flag, Straw began the year with an opening day HR, and drove in all three runs in the Mets 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He hit HRs in the first three games of the season driving in seven runs as the Mets swept the Opening series. He hit HRs in back to back in games at Philadelphia, including a four RBI day in a 9-3 win on April 16th.
  Early on he hit drove in 17 runs, hit five HRs & was batting .325 by the beginning of May. That month he started out with HRs in the first two games & hit nine HRs, driving in 16 runs with stole eight bases.

 On a West Coast road trip at the end of that month, he hit HRs in three straight games at San Diego. On May 22nd, he tied up a game with the Padres with a 9th inning HR off Mark Davis. Gary Carter followed in what was the game winning HR. In the third game, the Mets were down 1-0 in the 7th inning, when he homered off Eric Show, a two run shot leading to a 3-1 Mets win. On June 18th he hit a pair of HRs in Montreal leading to a 10-7 Mets win as he drove in four runs. He would only hit one more HR over the next month. 

All Star: By the All Star break he did have 51 RBIs along with 21 HRs, making his fourth straight All Star game. He went 0-2 in the NL's 2-0 shut out in Oakland, with Davey Johnson as the manager. 

 In August he hit four HRs the first week, including two at Shea Stadium against the Cubs on August 6th. On August 16th he had a four hit day at Wrigley Field in a 23-10 Mets romp over the Cubs. Straw hit a 4th inning three run HR off Greg Maddox, & then added a two run triple later in the game. He had six multiple RBI games in August, driving in 18 runs with 8 HRs for the month. He was the Player of the Month in September hitting another eight HRs with ten doubles 13 stolen bases & 27 RBIs. 

On September 9th, he hit two HRs against the Phillies at Shea leading to an 11-5 win. The next day he hit a two run HR against the St. Louis Cardinals in a crucial series, but the Mets fell short 6-4, losing to Ken Dayley. From September 14th through the 18th he drove in runs, in four straight games. On September 18th, he hit a three run HR & drove in four runs against the Pirates in a Mets heart breaking 10-9 loss to the Pirates. 

Even with all his hitting, the Mets could not catch the Cardinals this year, falling short of another NL East title. Straw finished the year (as one of ten players up until that point) joining the 30/30 club; hitting 39 HRs (3rd in the NL) & stealing 36 bases.

He put up a career highs with those 39 HRs, as well as setting a Mets single season mark. He drove in 104 runs (7th in the NL) hit 32 doubles with 151 hits, 108 runs scored (7th in the NL) 97 walks (4th in the NL) stole 36 bases, batted .284 was hit by a team leading seven hit by pitches & posted a career high .398 on base %.  

In 1988, Strawberry became the first Met since Dave Kingman to lead the league in HRs with 39. He lost out to Kirk Gibson for the MVP award but clearly should have won it. He led the NL in HRs (39) & slugging % (545%) driving in 101 runs while also scoring 101 runs (4th in the NL). He led the team in most offensive categories as well as in games played. He stole 29 bases while hitting 27 doubles hitting nine sac flies & posted a .366 on base %.

 He won the Silver Slugger Award, the first of two he’d win in his career. He became a poster boy for Kenner’s Starting Line Up action figures, and was being praised as possibly breaking Hank Aarons home run record. 

On the dark side of his life, his wife Lisa filed for divorce accusing him of breaking her nose & beating her. On Opening Day 1988 he hit two HRs, both solo shots, helping Dwight Gooden beat Dennis Martinez & the Expos in Montreal. He hit six HRs in April, amongst the tops in the league.

Then in the first week of May he bashed three more HRs. On May 6th, he had a big day agsinst the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium. In the first inning he hit a sac fly & then added an RBI single later on. The Reds rallied to take the lead, but then Straw was the hero, as he hit a walk off game winning HR against John Franco. 

He had a few big games against the rival Cardinals in the month of June, staring with a four RBI day on June 6th in St Louis, leading to a 6-4 Mets win. On June 13th as the teams played a series in New York, his 4th inning HR of Ken Dayley tied the game, as it went into extra innings & Lee Mazzilli won it with a walk off hit.

On June 15th he hit two HRs & drove in three runs in the 6-4 Mets win as they swept the series. He kept his batting average over the .300 mark until late June, then had a good July to follow. 

All Star: In that summers All Star game at Riverfront Stadium, in Cincinnati, Cards manager Whitey Herzog let him play the whole games, as he went 1-4 in the 2-1 NL loss. 

In mid July he hit HRs in three straight games on a series trip to Atlanta against the Braves. On July 24th he hit HRs in consecutive games at Shea Stadium, then returned with a five RBI day against the Philadelphia Phillies in a 10-5 Mets win at Veterans Stadium. He began August with HRs in three straight games, but then only hit one more over the next month.

 In September he hit nine HRs, had four multi RBI games, including a stretch of five straight games where he drove in at least one run in each game, he middle of the month. Starting on September 18th, he hit HRs in three straight games, all led to close Mets wins on their way to clinching the NL Eastern crown for the second time in three years. Strawberry closed out the year with two HRs & three RBIs in the regular season finale' on October 2nd. 

1988 Post Season: In Game #1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Straw's double off Orel Hershiser started a 9th inning rally with the Mets behind 2-0. He drove in the first Mets run, then scored the games tying run on Gary Carter's double, as the Mets went on to win it 3-2.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium he had three hits, driving in three runs as the Mets beat the Dodgers 8-4. In the home 3rd with the Mets down 3-0, Straw doubled driving in Mookie Wilson with the Mets first run. In the 6th, Straw would follow Keith Hernandez's single with a base hit of his own & would score on Gary Carter's base hit. The Mets tied up the game that inning. In the Mets five run 8th inning, Straw added a two run single capping off the Mets 8-4 win. The Mets had a two games to one lead at that point.

He would hit a HR in Game #4 although the Mets lost the game 5-4. He was 1-2 with two walks in the Mets 5-1, Game #6 win at Dodger Stadium. Straw also scored two runs in that game as well. He was shut down by Hershiser in Game #7 as the Mets were finished off in the five hit shutout. Darryl finished the Series batting .300 (9-30) with two doubles a HR & six RBIs. 

 In 1989, Strawberry's offensive numbers declined a bit, his 77 RBIs were his lowest total since his rookie season and a poor .225 batting average his lowest up to that point of his career. He still hit 29 HRs good enough for 6th in the league. The fans started getting on him as well as the media. Looking back he may have unfairly taken some of the heat for the Mets not winning another championship. It seemed he underachieved although there was always pressure on him to do more although he still put up great numbers. 

That season Gary Carter was winding down his Mets career playing more as a back up & Keith Hernandez was gone. Howard Johnson emerged as the teams power hitter but he & Straw could not carry the team. 

 Dramas; His personal dramas continued when he was arrested for slapping his wife around and pulling a gun on her. He checked into rehab for substance abuse and a blood test proved positive of him fathering a child in Missouri.

In 1990, there was more change in the air for the Mets, as Davey Johnson was fired as manager & Bud Harrelson took over the position. The team once again finished in second place although they won 91 games (91-71). 

 In June of 1990 , Straw won another Player of the Week Award hitting five HRs with twelve RBIs in the middle of a seventeen game hit streak. At the start of July he homered in three straight games, belting two in the first of those games coming against the Houston Astros. In each of those games he drove in three runs each time & overall drove in twenty one runs in the month. 

All Star: That year he played in his final All Star Game in a Mets uniform, going 0-1 as a reserve player in the AL's 2-0 win at Wrigley Field. 

On August 30th he belted a grand slam HR & drove in five runs in a game against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium. On September 11, 1990 he hit a walk off two run HR off the Cardinals Lee Smith for one of his last exciting moments as a New York Mets player. He had another goo month in September driving in twenty three runs, hitting eight HRs & playing his last Mets game on September 27th. That day he was 0-3 against the Montreal Expos. 

Strawberry put up strong numbers in the last year of his contract & final season as a Met. His team leading 37 HRs were second in the league, his 108 RBIs were 5th best in the league & tops on the Mets with Howard Johnsons 90 a distant second. 

Straw had 150 hits, good enough for a .277 average, he had 70 walks posting a .361 on base %. He hit 18 doubles the second lowest total of his career to that point & stole ten bases, also the lowest total up to that point in his career. He would never steal bases in double figures again. 

 In the 1990 off season he signed on with the Los Angeles Dodgers as baseball's highest paid player with a $23 million contract.

All Time Mets Leaderboard: In his Mets playing career he ranks among the best in most Mets all time offensive categories. Straw is first on the club's all time HR list with 252. 

He is second to David Wright in RBIs (733) in walks (580) & in strikeouts (960). He is third in runs scored (662) fifth all time in stolen bases (191) sixth in triples (30) eighth in games played (1109) ninth in doubles (187) & in hits (1025).

Honors: In 2010 he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Post Mets Career: In California, he became a West Coast star & was named Big Brother of The Year. He hit 28 HRs with 22 doubles 99 RBIs & a .265 average in his first & only full season as a Dodger player. Injuries & more personal problems sidelined for much of the next two seasons, hitting only five HRs in each season.

He got arrested for hitting his new pregnant girlfriend, then announced he had a substance abuse problem. He then did six months house arrest for failing to pay $450,000 in past income taxes. He was eventually released by the Dodgers in 1994. He got suspended for violating the substance abuse program, coming up dirty for cocaine use. 

He was then signed by the AL New York team in 1996 hitting 11 HRs with 36 RBIs batting .262. He went to the World Series that season with old team mate Dwight Gooden. Darryl hit three HRs in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles, including two in Game #4 at Camden Yards.

In 1998 he hit 24 HRs making a big comeback, but was soon diagnosed with colon cancer. He had surgery to have 24" inches of his colon removed. He also needed chemotherapy because cancer had been found in a lymph node. He would need another treatment two years later. He rebounded from that as well the next season, hitting three HRs playing in 24 regular season games. He appeared in two more post season games driving in four runs overall. 

Then there was more negative drama when Strawberry got arrested for trying to pick up an undercover cop disguised as a hooker. He eventually did jail time and then  got divorced from his second wife before finally cleaning up his act in the new millennium. 

In his 17 year career  Straw was an eight time All Star, NL Rookie of the Year, one time Player of the Month & six time Player of the Week Award winner.

Overall he batted .259 with 1401 hits 335 HRs (102nd all time) 1,000 RBIs, 256 doubles, 38 triples, 816 walks (240th all time) 131 Intentional walks (66th all time) 898 runs scored, & a.357 on base %. He struck out 1352 times (105th all time) with a career.505 slugging % (86th all time). 

Strawberry played in 40 postseason games, belting 9 HRs, with 22 RBIs and 20 runs scored. He played in five All Star games, making eight All Star teams with 12 All Star at bats batting .333 with two stolen bases. 

Retirement: Strawberry attended the Mets' 1986 World Champion team reunion in 2006. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game #2 of the 2006 NLCS & was at the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008. Strawberry has worked as an instructor for the Mets at various Spring Training camps. 

In 2009 he wrote his controversial Autobiography “Straw: Finding My Way”. In that book he told of his own & his 1986 team mates wild escapades. He said “We hauled around more Bud than the Clydesdales. The beer was just to get the party started and maybe take the edge off the speed and coke." 

 On the road, he writes: the modo was "tear up your best bars and nightclubs and take your finest women". The only hard part for us was choosing which hottie to take back to your hotel room. Lots of times you picked two or three a night." He talked about how the players would pick out women from the stands & send an errand boy to fetch them. He told of how he would have quickie sex in the clubhouse between innings. 

 In 2010 Straw threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citifield & later in the year appeared on Donald Trump’s show “The Apprentice”. Other celebs included Sharon Osbourne, Cyndi Lauper & Bret Michaels.

That same year he & his brother opened up a restaurant in Douglaston, Queens called Strawberry's. It closed in October 2012.

In 2013 he participated in the Charity celebrity softball game at Citi Field during the All Star Weekend. He was also on hand around the city for many of the All Star Game 2013 events.

His charity the Darryl Strawberry Foundation supports children with Autism. Straw also has worked as a studio analyst for the SNY network before & after Mets games. 

Family: His son Daryl Jr. played pro basketball in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns in 2007-2008. He also played in the NBA development league for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, then in Italy for Bologna before he needed knee surgery. In 2011 he played pro basketball in Israel.

Daryl is now a born again Christian. He & his new wife; Tracy, are pastors & have started Strawberry Ministries, The Strawberry Christian Recovery Program is dedicated to restoring lives & relationships.

A HealthCare Company help the couple run The Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center for drug & alcohol recovery, in Florida, Texas, Ohio & Louisiana. A Center outside of St. Louis is in the works as well.

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