Straw: Finding His Way

I'm not a reader. In fact, I've uttered the phrase "I don't care for books" more than once in my lifetime. But for some reason, I found myself wondering "What ever happened to Darryl Strawberry?" a few weeks ago. It could be because he is scheduled to be on the next Celebrity Apprentice or I just wanted to take a trip down memory lane. I don't know. In 2009, he released a book called Straw: Finding My Way.

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Wanting to read the book but being cheap, I took it out from the local library. I read it in 10-20 page increments while peddling on the stationary bike at the gym. For a non-reader like me, it was perfect. An engaging quick read that brought back so many memories of being a kid in New York.

Growing up in New York, you had your Mets households and you had your Yankees households. My family was a Yankees household. I spent far more time in the house that Ruth built as opposed to Shea. Which NY team you favored depended on a complicated mathematical algorithm --take the square root of your zip code, multiplied by the number of crazy people in your family and subtract both your parents' occupations to figure out your baseball alliance. Or, you could just root for the team that your dad likes.

In 1986, the Yankees were on the downslope of their dynasty and the Mets squared off against the evil Boston Red Sox in the World Series. My dad repeatedly said to me, "The Mets are bums." He never went into further detail as to why they were "bums" but I generally accepted his opinion. Except for the '86 world series where I found myself, along with the rest of NYC, rooting for these "bums". One "bum" in particular kind of caught my eye. He was tall, twenty-something, cute, lean and had the most beautiful swing my 11 year old eyes had ever seen. His name was Darryl Strawberry.

I like many other adolescent girls in NY had a crush on Darryl Strawberry. He was my first baseball crush -- before Jeter, before A-Rod, there was Darryl. I would never utter my inclinations to my dad for fear of being disowned and not wanting to hear his other classic phrase, "Boys are stupid. Stay away from them." Gee, thanks for imparting such wisdom. This will serve me well in life.

Anyway, I couldn't put this book down. I truly hope that Darryl has put all his personal demons behind him. They were apparently extensive --- alcohol abuse, drug abuse, beating a pregnant girlfriend, pulling a gun on his first wife, in and out of rehab, trying crack, a paternity suit and even a stint in prison. And boy, were those '86 Mets completely out of control. Just about everybody on the team was popping "speed", doing cocaine, cheating on their wives, and then there was the infamous plane ride from Houston during the playoffs. Darryl and some "unnamed pitcher" even had sex between innings. Holy cow! (say it like Phil Rizzuto for the full effect).

Another memorable part of the book is where Darryl talks about joining the Yankees in 1995 and sitting on the bench with this young kid named Derek Jeter. I guess, the manager at the time didn't care for either one of their abilities and perched them on the bench. Well, Darryl and Derek kept each other company on the pine. Darryl decided to impart a little bit of wisdom on the rookie. He told Derek to not be like him. To keep his nose clean. To watch his finances. You can play, you're good looking, and someday you'll own this town but don't do what I did.
Wow, truer words were never spoken.

Come to find out Darryl is residing just around the way in St. Charles, Missouri with his third wife. He has a foundation for autism and seems to have turned his life around for the better. He mentors young baseball players, kids, prisoners, anyone who will listen about what he's learned from his life's journey. I'm truly happy for him and hope he stays the course. I've always felt that the true measure of a man is not the falling but how he picks himself up afterwards.

I haven't watched Donald Trump's "Apprentice" TV show in years but I'm going to be glued this season since Darryl Strawberry is one of the contestants. I hope he wins the whole thing.