‘The Straw Man’ Trades Baseball Bat for a Church Pulpit

Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry (Andrew Innerarity/Reuters)

Former Major League Baseball superstar Darryl Strawberry is taking the widely quoted scripture of 2 Corinthians 5:17 literally these days: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (KJV).

At 51, the former four-time World Series champion, who hit 335 home runs in his career with the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, possesses no memorabilia from his solid baseball career in his modest two-story home in St. Peters, Mo., a town 30 miles west of St. Louis.

There is nothing that reminds him of the man—and the sports hero—he used to be.

And that’s exactly the way Strawberry, now a pastor, wants it.

“I got rid of it all. I was never attached to none of that stuff,” Strawberry told USA Today. “I don’t want it. It’s not part of my life anymore.”

His baseball accomplishments, including his eight All-Star game appearances, are listed on his bio on his website, StrawberryMinistries.org. However, the first bullet point on the bio reads “ordained minister.” He formed his own ministry three years ago.

“I finally have found my purpose in life,” Strawberry says. “I’m over ‘Strawberry.’ I’m over Mets. I’m over Yankees. I’m not a baseball player anymore. That person is dead.”

Strawberry’s new life purpose is serving Jesus alongside his wife, Tracy, “by speaking a message of hope and helping others transform their lives through the power of the gospel," he says.

“I was once very lost and tormented but now I am found and free in Christ Jesus. I want everyone to experience the saving and transforming power of Jesus Christ,” Strawberry says on his website.

While he chooses not to live by his past accomplishments, Strawberry realizes he can’t escape the public’s perception of his status as a baseball superstar. The former National League Rookie of the Year led the league in home runs in 1988, and he drove in more than 100 runs three times.

He was also named by the New York Times as one of the most famous celebrities in New York City at one time during his career.

But that time in Strawberry's life also trudges up some of his most painful memories. Alcohol and drug addiction ruled—and ruined—two marriages and any kind of a family life with his six children. He spent time in prison, and crack houses were a regular hangout for him.

“I used to be a big shot, let’s put it that way,” Strawberry told USA Today. “But I want nothing to do with baseball now. I have no desire to be working in baseball, no desire at all.

“I love the game, don’t get me wrong. But, I love the Bible more. I want to help people save their lives and have the responsibility of leading people into following Christ. It’s so hard to describe what that feels like. But I’ve never been happier in my life. It’s so much fun being a pastor.”

The Strawberrys met at a narcotics center convention in Tampa, Fla. Tracy, who had been clean for a year, was a cocaine, crack and crystal meth addict before she turned her life over to Jesus.

After they met, Tracy continued on the straight path, while Darryl insisted on continuing his path of destruction.

“I wanted to save Darryl,” Tracy told USA Today. “I saw the greatness in him, the potential. I would chase him, banging down crack house doors, pulling him out. To some people that was heroic. But that was crazy and dangerous.”

The two broke up several times before Tracy rendered an ultimatum to Darryl: Clean up your act or the relationship is done.

Darryl followed Tracy home to Missouri, and the two began a new life in pursuit of Jesus instead of fame and riches.

At the Mets’ request, Strawberry will be in New York for the upcoming All-Star game festivities at Citi Field. He says he’ll be uncomfortable with the autograph and interview requests, but this is a special occasion.

“I always believed there was a greater purpose to life. Now I’ve found it,” he says.

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