Table of contents
Background and Early Career
Strawberry, a native of Los Angeles who played High School baseball for the Crenshaw High Cougars along with Chris Brown, and against Eric Davis at Fremont High and Chili Davis at Dorsey High (all future fellow big leaguers), was drafted first overall in the 1980 draft by the New York Mets. Some baseball critics had anointed him as The Black Joe DiMaggio by then. In New York, he began to play in the MLB level in 1983, posting 26 home runs, hitting 7 triples and bringing in 74 runs, while hitting for a .257 average that year. He was named the National League's Rookie of The Year. In 1984, he made it to the All-Star game, and once again, he hit 26 home runs, while bringing in 97 runs.
The Prime Years
In 1987, Strawberry almost became the first man in baseball history to surpass 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in one year, when he hit 39 home runs and stole 37 bases. In addition to that, he hit 32 doubles that year. But the Mets couldn't reach the playoffs. He had 104 runs batted in that year.
In 1988, Strawberry once again hit 39 home runs, and the Mets reached the playoffs, losing to the Dodgers in the National League championship series. He once again went over 100 runs batted in that year, producing 101 runs.
In 1989, Strawberry's offensive numbers went down: He only had 29 home runs and 77 runs batted in. Nevertheless, the Mets came in a close second place to the Chicago Cubs in the National League's east. In 1990, Strawberry hit 37 home runs, while bringing in 108 runs and batting for a .277 average. His Mets, however, came once again in a close second place in the NL's east, losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates by two games.
During the period from 1983 to 1990, Strawberry was very popular, with such things as action figures (Kenner's Starting Lineup), posters and banners of him being produced.
Strawberry was traded to the Dodgers in 1991, and soon after, he signed a very lucrative contract with that team. In California, he was named Big Brother of The Year for that year. It was while playing in Los Angeles, however, that his personal life problems started to surface: He was accused there of domestic violence by his wife, and, in a widely publicized incident, he suggested that he wanted Los Angeles to burn in hell. After hitting 28 home runs and bringing in 99 runs batted in his first year there, his offensive numbers also suffered, and he hit only 10 home runs for the next two years.
His Later Years
In 1994, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants, where his offensive numbers continued to go downwards, hitting only four home runs and bringing in only 17 runs that year. Soon, he found himself back in New York, as the New York Yankees signed him.
With the Yankees, he showed flashes of his former brilliance, as he hit only three homers in his first year, but had 11 home runs and helped his team win the World Series in 1996, alongside former Mets teammate Gooden. In 1997, he did not have any home runs, his playing time limited to injuries, but in 1998, he had 24 home runs, once again helping the Yankees win the World Series. This was also the year he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and he and some other members of his family opened a record label. In 1999, he only hit 3 home runs, but the Yankees once again were baseball's world champions.
Strawberry was said to be talented enough to break Babe Ruth's home run record, but due to personal problems, he was merely good. Strawberry still managed to be an 8-time all-star, and each time his teams reached the World Series, Strawberry played for the winning team. He retired with 335 Home Runs, 1000 RBI, and a career .505 slugging percentage.
In 1999, Strawberry was found guilty of soliciting for a small amount of cocaine. Upon being found with more cocaine in 2000, Strawberry was suspended from baseball. He also announced in 2000 that his cancer had spread. Soon after, he announced his retirement from baseball.
Strawberry was found guilty and placed under house arrest. For a period, he left his house and was declared a fugitive.