We are rapidly approaching Opening Day, now just 18 days away! With that being said, I continue my countdown by looking at the greatest number 18 in Met history, my favorite baseball player of all-time Darryl Strawberry!
Darryl was the number 1 pick overall in 1980 out of Crenshaw High School in LA. Darryl took the league by storm by hitting 26 homers in his Rookie of the Year Campaign in 1983. Darryl teamed up with Keith Hernandez that season to give Met fans their first glimmer of hope since the 1973 NLCS. In 1984, more pieces of the puzzle were brought in as Davey Johnson came up from the minors with his prized right hander, Dwight Gooden. When Davey, Doc, Darryl and Mex teamed up, it was pretty clear that the Mets were going to be a dominant force very soon. It happened even faster then they knew, as they finished in 2nd with 90 wins in 1984.
In 1985, Kid Carter was brought on and the Mets narrowly lost the division to the eventually World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. In 1986, Davey Johnson proclaimed the Mets team to beat and the Mets eventually claimed their World Series title. Darryl’s best individual years occurred in ’87 (where he joined HoJo in the 30-30 club) and in ’89, in both years he belted 39 dongs. Darryl would however make the biggest mistake of his career( as he’s admitted), when after helping the Mets earn either 1st or 2nd place from ’84-’90, he would leave New York for his hometown of Los Angeles, California. Not only would the Mets drop off the radar for almost the entire decade of the 90′s but Darryl would only put together one good season in California.
Darryl battled his drug problems and finally resurfaced with the Yanks, where he helped contribute to the 96, 98 and 99 World Series titles. In part time work with the 98 Yanks, Darryl showed his form as he blasted 24 bombs, his second and final twenty homer season since he had left the Mets.
Darryl still holds the Met club records for most offensive catagories. I always loved at Shea when they would put the offensive records up and they were literally all Darryl’s except steals and triples which were Mookie’s. Darryl is still first in runs, homers, RBI’s and walks. Darryl will get his just due when he is put in the Mets Hall of Fame this season.
Darryl currently appears a guest coach, guest announcer and a team spokesman throughout the year. Darryl also released a book last season which I really need to pick up. My favorite Darryl memory is when he hit the roof of the old Montreal Olympic Stadium on Opening Day. This guy could hit the ball forever it seemed, I could never be the athlete he was but I always dreamt I could play the game the way the Straw Man could! I am glad Darryl is doing well these days and I hope to seem him take on more of a Met role in the future.