Straw: Finding My Way by Darryl Strawberry
From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Strawberry was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball, a perennial All-Star who was dubbed "The Black Ted Williams." Sadly, his effortless production on the field belied his troubles off it. Growing up in South Central L.A. with an abusive, negligent father left Strawberry unsure on "how to become a man," and playing pro baseball provided the foundation and means to become an alcohol and drug addict. Thanks to Strawberry's hard-living lifestyle, his attempts at domestic stability are colossal failures, and his halfhearted attempts at rehab lead to jail time and a damaged reputation. At his lowest point, Strawberry turns to God, leading him to redemption. The sheer turbulence of his life-which also includes two bouts of cancer in his 30s-certainly makes for a readable book, though not a probing one. The clichéd writing and Strawberry's refusal to delve deeper into his past (a troubled older brother; his strained relationship with pro athlete son, DJ) make it hard to bond with Strawberry, and his newfound spirituality provides only another barrier. 16-page photo insert not seen by PW. (May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Format: Hardcover, 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: April 28, 2009
A former major leaguer's paint-by-numbers story of redemption. Strawberry-a New York Mets icon (he also played for the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees), eight-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion-was an enigma. Blessed with limitless talent but frequently injured, often standoffish with the media and occasionally at odds with teammates, he spent his potential hall-of-fame career logging more time in the trainer's room and the courtroom than the outfield. Highly publicized legal drama-fueled by his addition to drugs, alcohol and women-followed him constantly. Twice divorced, Strawberry admits to following in his delinquent father's footsteps and assaulting his first two wives-unlike his father, however, he never turned his wrath on his children. A career spent battling addiction reached its nadir with a colon cancer diagnosis in 1998. Forced to retire, Strawberry continued to self-destruct, squandering his fortune and serving time behind bars.
After blaming everyone from his abusive father to the vindictive media to his ex-wives, Strawberry finally began to take responsibility. He admitted his mistakes and, after finding God, got himself clean and on the path to recovery. He dedicated his life to his third wife, his five children and charitable causes, such as the Darryl Strawberry Foundation, which aids children with autism. Unfortunately, Strawberry won't garner much sympathy from readers. His angst-filled insistences that he's a good person with a bad addiction problem quickly wear thin, and his monotonous relapses are so predictable that one begins to wonder why so many people continued to aid him. There's nothing original in this tale of woe, but it's unlikely that thesporting public will ever tire of seeing its fallen heroes repent and make amends. Author appearances in Los Angeles and New York City.
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