Darryl & Tracy Strawberry Lead “Epidemic of Hope” Event in Ohio to Address Opioid Crisis

Darryl Strawberry was the keynote speaker during an “Epidemic of Hope” conference at Breiel Boulevard Church of God in Middletown. Strawberry struggled with addictions throughout his Major League Baseball career. RICK McCCRABB/STAFF
Darryl Strawberry was the keynote speaker during an “Epidemic of Hope” conference at Breiel Boulevard Church of God in Middletown. Strawberry struggled with addictions throughout his Major League Baseball career. RICK McCCRABB/STAFF

From the seats at Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium to television sets around the world, it appeared Darryl Strawberry was living a charmed life.

He was making millions of dollars playing baseball, a game that showcased his talents as he seemed destined to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That was the Darryl Eugene Strawberry that baseball fans saw.

That wasn’t the real Straw, though.

“I was crippled inside,” he said after meeting with local pastors and church leaders recently in Middletown, Ohio. “I looked good from the outside, hitting home runs and accomplishing all kinds of things, but inside I was empty. I was broken before I ever put on a baseball uniform. We don’t deal with the brokenness of people in the homes. Mine was just covered up because I had a baseball uniform on and I could perform.

“In the end it’s always going to show its head.”

Strawberry, 55, and his wife, Tracy, both recovering addicts, spent Tuesday in Middletown, then led an “Epidemic of Hope” event at Breiel Boulevard Church of God that attracted about 300 people. The event was coordinated with the Ohio Attorney General’s office in response to the state’s opioid crisis.

Jeri Lewis, marketing and community development director at Kingswell, organizers of the event, said it was refreshing seeing diverse people all addressing the same issue.

“We can’t heal as a city without working together,” said Lewis, who said Tuesday’s event was “a great step in the right direction.”

Nineteen years after his 17-year Major League career ended, Strawberry still is an imposing 6-foot-6 figure — the same guy who led the Mets and Yankees to four World Series championships — and still flashes that same smile, but he’s obviously a changed man.

Instead of being known for hitting towering home runs, Strawberry, suspended three times by MLB for substance abuse, said his goal in his life after baseball is to lead people away from addictions and toward God.

He likes to preach, this Darryl Strawberry.

“We need to come together as leaders and push forward and push the darkness back,” said Strawberry, who said he has been clean for 14 years, his wife for 17 years. “We need to rally around the body of Christ to deal with this crisis we have in America today. We know there is a problem, but there’s a great solution too. We need to use the solution and that’s the church.”

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SOURCE: Rick McCrabb
Dayton Daily News