INWOOD – Darryl Strawberry has a contempt for the sport that made him famous.
“I don’t like baseball,” said Strawberry, an eight-time star and three-time World Series champion in a 17-year career in the sport.
He loves his place in the world now as an evangelist.
“God wanted to use baseball … to transform my life and preach the gospel across the country,” Strawberry said Saturday morning as a guest of the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival.
“I wanted to be known just for playing baseball. He had a plan for me to be an evangelist and travel the country.”
Strawberry delivered a captivating and inspiring speech to about 150 people at the Randy Smith Recreation Center ahead of the start of a new three-team baseball tournament featuring teams of players from local schools competing in mixed teams.
Strawberry delivered a first ceremonial pitch.
Before that pitch, however, Strawberry spoke about his transformation from baseball player to evangelist and how he recovered from well-documented fights with drugs and alcohol as well as other issues that affected the life of the 59-year-old man.
âI was great as a baseball player, but I was broken,â Strawberry said.
He later noted, “I had everything but nothing at the end of the day.”
Strawberry blamed many of his problems on a father who once threatened to kill his entire family, saying he started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana when he was 14.
âDon’t have a drink, don’t take drugs,â Strawberry said.
He said his mother took the family out of the situation that night. Even though she passed away at 55, he credited her with much of the change in his life and how she inspired him to come out of his problems.
âListen to your mom,â Strawberry said. “That’s what you should do.”
He also said he finally met his father, whom he essentially rejected during his baseball career, and forgave him.
As for her transformation, Strawberry said, âIf you’ve never seen a miracle, you’re looking at me now.
“I didn’t become a man until I met Jesus.”
A father of nine, Strawberry was laughed at when he said, âGod gave me a starting nine.
He also mentioned that his children don’t talk about him as a baseball player but as his role in spreading the gospel.
He told the congregation, âStay true to yourself. … idolize yourself, not just anyone else.
Much of his message encouraged others to listen to the words of the gospel.
A two-time cancer survivor, he told the crowd to stay in their faith, because âit will sustain youâ.
âFollow Christ,â Strawberry said. “… you will save yourself a lot of headaches.”