ST. LOUIS — It's probably safe to say Darryl Strawberry isn't exactly a fan favorite among Cardinals fans. Aside from perhaps Keith Hernandez, I don't think any of the 80's Mets could say they are particularly "loved" by the St. Louis fan base.
But these days, Strawberry makes his home in of all places, the St. Louis area. He chatted with 5 On Your Side's Frank Cusumano about his baseball career, often painful life, overcoming addiction and his new purpose.
So yes, it's possible that guy you saw who you though, 'That can't be Darryl Strawberry can it' actually was.
"Yeah I'm quite sure a lot of people do think that. It's great to be back in Missouri, we went to Florida for a little bit. And St. Louis is just a wonderful place. I didn't realize that in my playing days because we wasn't liked to much when I played with the Mets. The Cardinals and Mets rivalry was really real. But I'm glad to be back in St. Louis and living now," Strawberry said.
And as for that rivalry, for every guy St. Louis fans despised, there was a guy the Mets didn't care for either.
"We loved Willie McGee he was great. But we didn't like Tommy Herr. Tommy Herr was always stepping in and out of the box and fixing his helmet and fixing his hair, pulling on his uniform and I think a lot of guys didn't like that," Strawberry remembered. "I've always liked Ozzie, he's a great guy. I've always liked Whitey, he was a great manager. But there were always guys over there that we just didn't like and twisted us the wrong way and we just wanted to always beat them every time we faced them."
Strawberry was a three-time World Series champion, eight-time All-Star and had 335 homers and 1,000 RBI in his career. But as he's revealed, he struggled with addiction. So could his career actually have been better?
"I never look back on, 'It could have been more'. Because my life was fractured. I was broken. I was playing baseball out of pain and I think being able to achieve that without being healthy was pretty incredible," Strawberry said. "If it was the healthy me, yes there probably would have been more. But I can't look back and say that because my life would take a turn for the better through my darkest nights of my life... of who I was and everything to come to a place and be sitting here today and be the man I am today. I don't know if I would be the man I am today if I had a long career and made more money I probably would have thought I really had it all and never found the love of Jesus in my life."
Strawberry had a tough childhood where he was routinely beaten and verbally abused by his alcoholic father. It got so bad that one night, Strawberry said he and his brother almost ended up killing their father in self-defense.
But at the end of his dad's life, Strawberry visited him and asked for forgiveness himself and the two got closure.
Strawberry writes about the tougher times in his life in his new book called, "Turn Your Season Around: How God Transforms Your Life". The book also dives into how his wife, Tracy, helped to save his life.
"When we met down in Florida, I was still using drugs. I was shooting dope and smoking crack. And she was banging on doors in south Florida and pulling me out of dope houses and talking about, 'God's got a plan for you'. And I said, 'Why don't you just leave me here and let me die?' And she said, 'You're not that lucky'. So she pulled me out of there and brought me to St. Louis," Strawberry said.
When asked how he'd like to be remembered, the former baseball great hoped he wouldn't be thought of as just an athlete.
"I would like my legacy to be remembered not as far as baseball, but that I became a man of faith who went out and did some great things to help so many people and lead people to Christ," Strawberry said.