Darryl Strawberry knows what it feels like to be on the edge.
“I went through hell,” the former Major League Baseball allstar said.
Strawberry spoke about his drug and alcohol dependency Saturday at the Sister’s Path Gala sponsored by Fargo’s Sharehouse at the Ramada Plaza Suites.
“A lot of people go to treatments, like myself, several times, and never can pinpoint where the problem is,” Strawberry said. “You don’t see it until your life is totally at the end.”
Strawberry, who said he has been drug-free for nearly four years, was scheduled to speak with his wife, Charisse, the President of the Tampa, Fla., chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
But the woman who stuck with Darryl through addiction and two battles with colon cancer was unable to attend the event due to food poisoning.
“She’s been through a lot. She’s very committed,” Strawberry said. “She’s saddened that she wasn’t able to make it.”
The Strawberrys have become regular inspirational speakers since Darryl’s retirement from baseball and his numerous recoveries.
“Basically, I like to share my life,” Strawberry said. “Where it all began. How I got through addiction. What it was like, the insanity of it.”
Rick Lopez, the executive director of Fargo’s Sharehouse, said Darryl’s message is powerful.
“He gives a message of hope and coverage for those facing addiction,” Lopez said.
Strawberry spoke primarily about the effect chemical dependency has on families while also promoting his and Charisse’s book, “Recovering Life.”
The Strawberrys co-authored the book, an autobiographical account of their struggles.
“Most of the time, people don’t understand,” Strawberry said. “They think the person who is using or drinking is the one being affected, but families are also being affected.”
Strawberry, who has three children with Charisse and two from his first marriage, said speaking to families of those affected is one of the most important things to him, especially since he knows what the problems meant to his children.
“She (Charisse) really wanted the kids to grow up knowing their dad,” Strawberry said. “They know their dad is around and is involved in things.”
Strawberry won three World Series titles during his 17-year career. His first came with the New York Mets in 1986. The other two came with the New York Yankees (1996, 1999).
He was named Rookie of the Year in the National League in 1983.
After being away from baseball for more than five years, Strawberry is back with the Mets, working in their farm system and helping groom rookies.
“It’s a great feeling to be back with the organization I started with,” Strawberry said. “They want me to work with them and guide them, hopefully teach them some things about baseball.”
With a new job and a new outlook on life, Strawberry’s next step is to literally take things one day at a time.
He lives up to it by wearing a wristband with the words, “Just For Today,” on it.
“Just for today. Each day that you wake up, you just thank God and pray you get through another 24 hours,” Strawberry said.