Rob Parker reflects on the core of Black players known as “The Soul Patrol.” Darryl Strawberry, Cecil Fielder and Charlie Hayes helped propel the 1996 Yankees to the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1978.
Rob Parker takes us back to the 80s and remembers one of the baddest MLBbros to ever lace up the cleats. Few players in MLB history have captivated the fans like Darryl Strawberry. When he stepped to the plate, everyone stopped, looked and listened. He could give you 30 steals and 30 bombs, he had a rifle in the outfield and was one of the smoothest ballers you’ll ever see.
Rob Parker details the story of “The Soul Patrol.”
Three Black players propelled the New York Yankees to victory in the 1996 World Series, sparking a dynasty that captured three of the next four World Series titles.
Jay-Z said, “You can’t change a player’s game in the ninth inning,” but Darryl Strawberry did just that and now, one of the most charismatic, talented, and tortured souls in MLB history is playing a new game, walking a righteous path.
At the height of his career, no one had a bigger name or a bigger swing in Major League Baseball.
Indeed, Darryl Strawberry had it all.
And then Straw lost it all. His fall from grace was as colossal as one of his 335 career home runs.
Strawberry, who started his career with the New York Mets, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1983. He was a fan favorite and was voted to the All-Star Game eight straight years from 1984-1991.
He helped turn the Mets from perennial losers to World Series winners in 1986.It was during that season that Straw enjoyed his greatest moment in the game. “The moment I think about more than anything was the night that we clinched (the National League East division title) at home in 1986,” Strawberry said.
“We had such a phenomenal year that season, kind of ran away with it.
“But when it came to clinching, which was really hard. We traveled a few times and lost.”
But finally, with Mets’ ace Doc Gooden on the mound against the Chicago Cubs, the Mets wrapped it up.
“I had watched baseball for so long that when you clinch a division, the fans used to be able to run on the field,” Straw said. “And that’s what happened to us that night.
“I couldn’t even run towards the mound. I had to run out of the bullpen because the fans hit the field so fast and it was a night of great celebration in Queens. And I will never forget that moment.”
After playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Fransisco Giants, Straw returned to NYC. This time, he landed with the New York Yankees. And Strawberry brought his big home run bat. He helped the Yankees win three championships – 1996, 1998 and 1999.
For Strawberry, he was sky-high. When things turned bad, he was simply high.
By 2000, Strawberry’s life was derailed by drugs and alcohol. He was suspended by MLB three times in his career. Instead of the Hall of Fame, Strawberry went to prison as well.
“As far as my baseball career, I’m glad about the things that happened to me. I was really a broken man my whole career,” said Strawberry, who grew up in Los Angeles. “The uniform really just covered up the pain of who I was and the broken pieces of my life.
“From my father being an alcoholic …. and (he) beat the crap out of me, telling me I would never amount to anything. Then I go on to be successful, play Major League Baseball.”
Today, Strawberry, 59, is remarried, a minister and travels the country spreading the Lord’s word. And sometimes even hopping on TV to talk a little MLB.
#MLBOpeningDay was a bit different this year, with games postponed and fewer fans than usual. We asked #MLB Legend Darryl Strawberry what he thinks of the 2021 season. #baseball #COVID #sports #VarneyCo pic.twitter.com/0FcrqC9Xol
— Varney & Co. (@Varneyco) April 2, 2021
“Had I not gone through those things in baseball, I probably would have made another $50-60 million playing baseball, but I would have never met Jesus,” said Strawberry.
“I’m thankful for every trial and tribulation that I have had in life. It has made me always want to go back and help somebody else.”
That’s bigger than any home run Strawberry ever hit.