Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Straw: Finding My Way by Darryl Strawberry

I recently borrowed from my local library and read Straw: Finding My Way by Darryl Strawberry (New York: Ecco, 2009). As if I hadn't said it enough already, he was my favorite player growing up. He was a lefty; I was a righty. I played right field and bench. I wished I was a lefty. Then I could have gotten an outfielders baseball glove with this signature in it (as it was I had and still have a Rawlings Dale Murphy). I guess they made them for righties, but I never saw one (until I just googled it).  While I did bat right-handed, I taught myself his stance, too, and have to say in our driveway I could regularly make decent contact on the tennis ball with which we were forced to play. But I wasn't dumb, then. I knew that I would never play professional baseball. Something about not cracking five feet tall until around 10th grade solidified my fate to try to excel in other sports... And, to beat a dead horse, my interest in baseball waned severely after about the 1989 season -- at least I can hardly say that I collected baseball cards after that point (though I have now an odd 1990 card, I have nothing after that).

What a life. A full spectrum of experiences with massive highs and frightening lows. The book is written almost as if it was being spoken. Like it was a series of interviews, even. The cover indicates authorship is "Darryl Strawberry with John Strausbaugh" so I can only presume that Strausbaugh did most of the writing with input from Strawberry. The book is quite candid. Strawberry owns up to his transgressions, successes, failures, and everything in-between.

As a Strawberry fan and a baseball fan, I lament that his career wasn't as long, healthy, and productive as it might have been had not all the troubles happened with drugs and injuries. Strawberry is 12 years older than me, but in 1984 when I first got on the Strawberry fan boat, he seemed so much older. He brought so much energy and excitement to my baseball watching. He was as dynamic aND grace full a hutter as there every was. Whenever he was on This Week In Baseball, I tuned in. On the cover of a magazine? I had to have it. Baseball cards? Posters? Wanted it. Willing to have a breakdown in the card store over it. Almost nothing I wouldn't give up, money or cards-wise, for something I didn't have. (That being said, I always wanted but never got his 1983 Topps Traded.)

Knock knock.
What's there?
eBay!

I look at Strawberry with infinitely more respect and admiration than I previously did. I am still a fan and have restarted collecting his baseball cards because I think it will be fun. It'll serve two purposes: get me in touch with the feeling I had as a 10-15 year old but also get me familiar with the period of card collecting I missed while in college, overseas, and then two freakin' decades in the professional world.

I recommend Straw to any and every baseball fan. I am positive others will benefit from reading this book whether they are struggling with their own addictions or just want to read about a person who came from nothing, made it big, lost everything and still wound up on his feet a better man than he might otherwise have been. Strawling can be a frustrating read because we now how his career went, but it is still a worthwhile one because the journey was so difficult.   And reaching the conclusion really kind of joyous because in the end it turned out well.  He found success and meaning and a life and a wife to be very proud of.

If you were a fan of Darryl Strawberry and/or Dwight Gooden, you'll want to pay attention to ESPN's 30 for 30 which has a program in the works for 14 July. This will, of course, inextricably link forever Bastille Day, Strawberry, and Gooden.

For more information about Pastor Darryl Strawberry, visit his website.

Thanks for stopping by.

All links accessed 22 May 2016.

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