Former troubled baseball All-Star now a pastor

(Photo: REUTERS / Adam Hunger)Former MLB player Darryl Strawberry gets a hit during the Legends and Celebrities All-Star softball game at Citi Field in New York, July 14, 2013. The 2013 Major League Baseball's All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday.

Once known for his prowess as a major league baseball player and also for his off-the-field behavior, Darryl Strawberry has reintroduced himself to the American public as a dedicated minister of the Gospel.

"Restoring lives and Relationships through the power of God and the process of change," Strawberry says on the website of the ministries and foundation he runs with his wife Tracy.

Strawberry who is now 51, was once thought to be on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1983 and his future looked bright.

In the 1980s Strawberry twice hit 39 home runs. During one of those years, he also stole 36 bases, joining baseball's exclusive 30-30 club. In 1986 he helped lead the New York Mets to a World Series victory.

During the first part of his career Strawberry made the All-Star team eight times.

(Photo: Facebook)Caption: Darryl and Tracy Strawberry speak to groups around the U.S., have a recovery program, and also minister to people with autism.

However, his achievements on the baseball field were accompanied by personal problems, including heavy drinking and cocaine use, according to

Strawberry also had a rocky marriage with his wife Lisa. In 1987 they filed for separation because he broke her nose, but they remained together.


Three years later Strawberry entered an alcohol treatment center after he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon during an argument with Lisa. They later divorced.

The 1990s were not much better. He was suspended by Major League Baseball for cocaine use and got into legal trouble for not reporting several hundred thousands of dollars in income on his taxes.

Strawberry also developed colon cancer toward the end of his playing career in 1998.

It was during the 90s that the ball player first began to flirt with Christianity.

While playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his hometown team, Strawberry attended a convention held by Pentecostal televangelist Morris Cerullo and was saved, according to CBN.

However, the conversion did not have an effect on his long-term behavior. He had some success in remaining sober, but still battled drug and alcohol abuse.

Strawberry was suspended by Major League Baseball in 1995 when he tested positive for cocaine

In 1999, after four years of sobriety, Strawberry began drinking and using drugs again. He also was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, who was actually an undercover police officer.


His pattern of success on the field and defeat off it continued. 1999 was also the year he helped the New York Yankees win the World Series.

Strawberry's baseball career ended after he was suspended for a year in 2000 by Major League Baseball for failing a drug test.

After 2000 Strawberry was in and out of jail and rehab. However, he spent six months with a sister who encouraged him to read the Bible and dedicate himself totally to God.

According to CBN, Strawberry's life has transformed since 2006. That year he began working with the Mets as an instructor, turned his life over to Jesus and married his current wife Tracy, who he met in a narcotics center.

She too had turned her life over to Christ.

Strawberry's life as a pastor and his involvement in ministry came to light this summer.

He moved back into the public eye when he attended the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July.

Strawberry also gave an interview to Bob Nightengale of USA Today which divulged his new life.

Nightengale described his visit to the former All-Star's home.

"There are no pictures of Strawberry in a baseball uniform," said the USA Today reporter. "No trophies. No plaques. None of his four World Series rings. Nothing from his eight All-Star Games. None of his 335 home run balls."

"I got rid of it all. I was never attached to none of that stuff," Strawberry, 51, said in USA Today.

"I don't want it. It's not part of my life anymore."

Nightengale wrote, "Darryl Strawberry, the former outfield great, is no longer. Darryl Strawberry, the ordained minister in this town 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of St. Louis, is very much alive.

Strawberry told Nightengale, "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."

Strawberry told Nightengale that the interview with him was the first he has given in three years, since he began his ministry.

He and his wife Tracy run Strawberry Ministries.

The ministry website says the couple travel extensively together speaking to groups.

USA Today also noted that they also have opened a Christian recovery center in Longview, Texas and have plans for two more.

In addition, they have a foundation which ministers to people with autism.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News