By Lynn Hobbs
The Eatonton Messenger
June 1, 2017
Sixteen years in the MLB, National League Rookie of the Year, eight times an All-Star, four World Series championships, two times Silver Slugger Award, National League home run leader, New York Mets Hall of Fame – none of these career highlights mean anything to baseball legend Darryl Strawberry.
As he stood to speak in front of a small group of people in Eatonton recently, Strawberry wasted no time getting straight to the point.
“God is not going to ask me what I accomplished in my career,” he said. “I may have championship trophies and awards, but all that means absolutely nothing to God. The only thing that’s important is what I am doing for him.”
He got straight to the point, speaking with fervency, indicating he did not want to waste time because his message is so important and he has so many people to tell before it is too late.
“My whole idea about life today is about serving others,” he explained. “We can’t be afraid to tell people the Bible gives you liberty, gives you hope. Most Americans are driven by the success in life; but I’ve been there; that’s not important. What’s important is people and living by Biblical standards (to win people for God).”
Strawberry was at Putnam’s old state prison on Rock Lane, talking with the workers who are remodeling the old prison and informally meeting others who had been invited to the event, which was hosted by Tytan Pictures. The prison and other Eatonton locations will be used for some scenes in Tytan’s upcoming movie about Strawberry’s life.
From 1983 until 1999, Strawberry played with the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees; and was a power hitter known for his home run stats. His salary averaged $4 million annually during his five years with the Dodgers. When consequences of substance addiction ended his baseball career, Strawberry found new life and hope in Jesus Christ, he said. His past stardom with MLB, his many appearances on television, his fame as the author of top-seller books and his Christian ministry have garnered him a spot in the New York Times top 20 as one of the most favorite and famous celebrities out of the 100 most famous people in New York City, according to Joe Anthony Silva Consulting. But Strawberry’s opinion is much more humbled.
“I’m a nobody, just a sinner saved by grace,” Strawberry said to the crowd at the old prison. “I’ve already lived according to worldly standards. They don’t work. I’ve been a millionaire, and I’ve lived behind prison walls. God met me in the pit of life and changed me forever. …(What God has in store) on the other side is nothing compared to here. What is important is teaching people he is Lord and he is coming back one day.”
These days, Strawberry is an ordained minister and co-founder of Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center in Orlando and Strawberry Ministries with his wife, Tracy. Their recovery curriculum, “Clean, Sober and Saved,” has been adopted by the Illinois Department of Corrections. The couple travels the country delivering their message of hope, restoration and recovery to others. They speak to large crowds and small groups, sharing their personal experiences with defeat, addictions, abuse, divorces, cancer and/or incarceration and their on-going recoveries.
At the old Putnam prison, Strawberry was greeted personally by almost everyone who attended, signed autographs and posed for cell-phone pictures. He also shared his story with the construction workers, posed for selfie-photographs with them, too, and was heard encouraging several of them one-on-one.
“For me, being a Yankee fan, I think he’s awesome,” said Calvin Jones. “He was a big inspiration. I know it will motivate me because he had it (addiction) and I can see the change in him because I have followed him. Also, he is a good boss,” Jones added, pointing to Tytan CEO Jim Stone. “He gave me a chance.”
Stone, who now lives in Eatonton with his wife, Roxie, has hired about several people to help in the renovation of the old prison. Almost all of them live in the neighborhood around the prison. Stone talked to local leaders and business owners about them during his speech at the event.
“They walked up from the neighborhood and asked for jobs,” he said, pointing toward the workers who had grouped themselves together. “These are fine young men. The only thing they need is opportunity. They would be a good asset to any of your companies. They have worked really hard in really crappy conditions; and I ask you to consider giving them a chance if you are looking to hire someone.”
For more information about Strawberry Ministries, visit StrawberryMinistries.org . For more information about Tytan Pictures, visit TytanCreates.com .