When Darryl Strawberry hit the bigs on May 6, 1983, his debut and powerful swing were highly anticipated. Drafted first overall by the New York Mets in the 1980 Amateur Draft, Strawberry quickly slugged his way through the minors and was warmly welcomed by the Shea Stadium faithful.
Undoubtedly, after being drafted No. 1, receiving such attention in the Big Apple, and knocking 26 homers in his Rookie of the Year season, Strawberry developed a perceived (and probably real) sense of arrogance. He also fought an ongoing addiction to cocaine.
Yet, despite early drug and alcohol troubles, Strawberry was able to keep it together enough to help the Mets win it all in 1986.
Over the next eight years, when healthy, Strawberry put up spectacular numbers, and he apparently maintained himself through domestic, alcohol, and drug problems as a functional addict.
But, in 1994, Strawberry missed the Dodgers' final exhibition game while on some sort of bender and subsequently checked himself into the Betty Ford Center. During the following two seasons, cocaine and tax problems would sideline Strawberry significantly.
Resilient as ever, Strawberry somehow managed to make the 1996 New York Yankees' roster and win a second championship.
A minor comeback.
En route to his third World Series ring in 1998, Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer in early October and missed out on the postseason.
However, what should have been a permanent wake-up call did little to awaken Strawberry from his addictive daze.
In 1999, Strawberry was busted for possession of cocaine and soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. Miraculously, Strawberry even returned from this incident to win his fourth championship, his third with Joe Torre's Yankees.
Unfortunately, that was the great Strawberry's last stand in baseball.
More cancer surgeries. More drug busts. Strawberry was ultimately left in prison for 11 months, his stay ending in 2003.
Still, the Yankees welcomed him back as an instructor, but it was at this point that Strawberry made his true comeback from cancer, from coke, and from his own hubris.
Strawberry quit his job with the Yankees to serve the Without Walls International Church.
He never came back to the game, as so many fans would have liked, but Strawberry did come back to life.