The New York Mets announced Thursday that the legendary Darryl Strawberry will attend Old Timers Day on August 27, a late decision that could open the door for other former Mets to join the fun at Citi Field in three months.
Strawberry will take part in the festivities planned for the day, however, the outfielder that made seven All-Star appearances as a Met will not play in the game. “Sorry to say, I do not think I will be able to play,” he told reporters at Major League Baseball. “My knees and shoulder will not let me swing a bat anymore. It is the wear and tear and the years catching up with me. I will be there supporting the guys who will be on the field.”
Perhaps his decision not to play will make Old Timers Day slightly more enticing for past players who are unfit to take the diamond once more. Fans have long anticipated the return of stars like David Wright and Jerry Grote back to Queens, N.Y., and Strawberry’s recent announcement may very well more-densely populate an already-honorable roster of former ballplayers.
A star on the field for the NY Mets:
Strawberry, who has been a leader many times before in his lifetime, is no stranger to New York’s limelight. As a 21-year old he won the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year Award, marking just the beginning of an illustrious Mets career in which he would rack up a lifetime batting average of .263, 733 runs batted in, 191 stolen bases, and 662 runs scored through eight seasons. His 252 home runs in blue and orange still stands as a franchise record, and his contributions in 1986 were pivotal to the clubs World-Series-winning run.
Yesterday's NY Met, today's evangelist:
Today, he is a world-traveling evangelist and minister who dedicates his time to Catholicism. He speaks to audiences of children about the dangers of drug abuse and alcoholism, struggles he faced in his adolescence and playing days. Strawberry is a family man who keeps baseball in his life as much as possible, maintaining contact with past teammates from all four big league teams he played for (Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and New York Yankees). The former outfielder is thrilled to have the chance to reunite with many Mets greats, and to put on the Mets uniform for the first time in 32 years. “Shea was always a wonderful place for me,” he said. “The fans were always great. They supported me in the good and bad times.” Strawberry will join a plethora of other Mets legends.
A healthy list of New York megastars are scheduled to attend, a docket that surpasses 60 former Mets: most notably are Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Ed Kranepool, Cliff Floyd, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Ron Swoboda, Robin Ventura, Mookie Wilson, and now Strawberry himself. With three months until the scheduled date, a path has been created for past players and personnel to join Strawberry in the dugout, a chance for as many Mets legends to be celebrated in the city they once gave their hearts to.