Summer 2024

New York Mets retire Darryl Strawberry's No. 18: 'I'd like to give honor to God'

Darryl Strawberry, one of the greatest players ever to don a New York Mets uniform, had his No. 18 retired by the team on Saturday before its 10-5 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s the 10th player to have his number retired by the franchise.

The now-62-year-old eight-time All-Star (seven with the Mets) stood on Citi Field with a large No. 18 cut into the outfield grass and former teammates and family sitting in the infield. Strawberry addressed the adoring crowd for about 15 minutes.

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“Nothing like being home!” he said to begin his speech, eliciting a resounding ovation. “First, I’d like to give honor to God. I’d like to thank Him for His grace, His mercy, and His love for my life.”

Strawberry thanked everyone he could in the Mets organization for helping him reach the heights he did in New York, which included a legendary run to win the World Series in 1986. The ordained traveling minister also made sure to thank his many pastor friends who were in attendance, as well as his family and his wife, Tracy, for caring for him after the massive heart attack he suffered on March 11.

Near the end of his remarks, he pointed back to his Father in Heaven.

“The greatest gift I’ve ever received,” he said, “was accepting the Lord in my life. Not just becoming a baseball player, but becoming a man.”

Strawberry was the No. 1 overall pick by the Mets in 1980 out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. He made his MLB debut in 1983 at 21 years old, winning National League Rookie of the Year. He made his first of eight consecutive All-Star teams the following season, and two years later led the Mets to the team’s latest World Series title.

He signed with his hometown Dodgers following the 1990 season, playing three seasons there. After a year with the San Francisco Giants, he finished his career by playing five seasons with the New York Yankees, where he won three more World series titles.

Strawberry amassed 335 home runs and 1,000 RBIs in a career that was in part derailed by his well-documented alcohol and drug abuse. He’s still the Mets’ franchise leader in home runs (252), yet he wasn’t able to replicate his success elsewhere.

Since his darkest days and thanks to the support from Tracy, whom he met in a drug rehab facility in 2006 Strawberry has become a devout follower of Christ. He now travels around, preaching the Good News of the Gospel.

His heart attack in March disrupted his travel plans, and on Saturday, Strawberry revealed just how severe it was.

“I came close to losing my life,” Strawberry said in a pre-ceremony press conference, according to CBS Sports. “I’m sitting here because it’s a gift from the Lord and I don’t take it for granted.”

Strawberry has been a guest on the Sports Spectrum Podcast numerous times, most recently this past April, when he discussed his heart attack, his upcoming number retirement ceremony, and of course his faith in Jesus.

“There are so many wonderful things I can sit here and say ‘thank you’ for and be thankful for,” Strawberry began, “[but mostly] for us to be here, and being able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and His love for us no matter what we go through.”

He continued later, “I can see this [heart attack] as another open door to reach more people for God, to show them that faith is the most important part of your life and that you have to be able to hold onto your faith regardless of the circumstances of life.

“If God’s gonna call me to preach about storms being in a storm, coming out of a storm, storms on the way then I gotta live that too.”

Strawberry said he learned even more about the Gospel through his health scare.

“The Gospel is the truth. Jesus said it in John 14:6 ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ He is the way. And knowing that Easter was yesterday, and that He got up with all power in His hands for us, that’s what we gotta learn to live. We gotta learn to live the book. Which book? Not just any book, but I’m talking about the Bible.

“… He shed His blood for us, that we would experience this abundant life because of that, because of His love for us on the cross. He wasn’t hanging on that cross just for nothing; He was hanging on that cross for everything. … This is grace. He talks about, “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.'”

Near the end of his interview on the podcast, Strawberry said his Bible is the most important item he has.

“Something great happened when I picked this Bible up,” he said. “I couldn’t put it down, and it was never done. I think people need to understand that it’s so alive, it’s so rich, it’s so well written, it’s for us and it’s for us to live out this life this way.

“… I think that’s what we all come to realize when we do find the cross and find a relationship with Jesus. He uses every last one of us when we come to the end of ourselves and say, ‘It’s not me, it is He that is great inside of me’ that helps others come to know they can live this way.”

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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