Darryl Strawberry’s passionate message amid jersey retirement

Darryl Strawberry’s passionate message amid jersey retirement

New York Mets fans of a certain age remember that there was a time when they had a team capable of instilling fear in their opponents. In particular, the 1986 Mets were a dominant organization combining pitching, defense, power hitting, and situational hitting. The Mets would win the World Series that year for only the second time in team history, and one of their dominant leaders was slugger Darryl Strawberry.

He is one of the memorable players on that team that included Dwight Gooden, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dykstra and Ron Darling. All of these players made vital contributions to this team, but when it came to hitting eye-catching home runs that got the crowd on their feet, no one could compare to Strawberry.

While it’s been 34 years since he last played for the Mets, the team honored Strawberry by retiring his number before their game Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Throughout his career with the Mets, Strawberry was one of the most imposing power hitters in the game. He hit 252 of 294 home runs in his career while in a Mets uniform. Strawberry played eight seasons for the Mets, and his best years came in 1987 and 1988. He hit 39 home runs in each of those seasons and he led the National League in slugging percentage with a mark of 0.545 in 1988.

Strawberry thanked Mets fans with an emotional speech

Former New York Mets player Darryl Strawberry speaks during a news conference at Citi Field before his number was retired by the team during a ceremony before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Strawberry explained that he didn’t even know where New York was when he was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 1980 Major League Baseball draft.

“I didn’t know I was coming to the best place in the world to play baseball,” Strawberry said. “I didn’t know I would play in front of the biggest fans forever. There was nothing like playing in Queens. There was nothing like playing at Shea Stadium. The memories I have, I will keep them forever. I will always cherish them.

Strawberry, 62, is the team’s all-time home run leader. He suffered a heart attack earlier in the year and had to get clearance from his doctors to travel to New York. He was also present when Gooden’s number was retired earlier this year.

In addition to playing for the Mets, Strawberry also played five seasons for the New York Yankees, three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and one year with the San Francisco Giants.

In addition to being part of the 1986 World Championship team with the Mets, he was also part of three World Series winning teams with the Yankees.

Darryl Strawberry won the Rookie of the Year award in 1983 with the Mets. He also made the All-Star team eight times. He won a Home Run Derby and won the Silver Slugger Award twice.