Baseball great Darryl Strawberry is familiar with the vagaries of life and of life's hard lesson that wrong decisions cause painful consequences. This was the focus of the speech he gave at the New York Mets Baseball Academy in Glen Cove on Wednesday, August 11. The academy is a baseball camp for 7-15-year-old children, run by director Tom Hopke.
Darryl was open to the kids about his past addictions and time spent in jail. He described what led to his failures in order to help encourage his audience to make good choices. He stressed listening to teachers and parents, finding good role models, and avoiding the wrong crowd. His speech focused more on life and less on baseball; he said, "This is more about being a good person rather than just a good baseball player."
When he did speak of baseball, his guidance was simple: stay focused on the field (especially during practice), compliment your team and teammates, care about what you are doing, and hold no jealousy, a vice that leads to problems on all levels, and is especially an issue in major league baseball. Even when talking about baseball he continued to emphasize listening to authority and finding the right type of friends. His final advice was given with a bit of humor, concluding with, "Retire young, you look good that way."
When asked about being in the Hall of Fame, Darryl answered, "I don't really worry about [it]...I worry and care about kids today."
After some questions from the kids, Darryl went to a booth and signed autographs for everyone. He was polite and patient during the signing, and seemed happy to be part of the day. He did spend some time talking to two nearby security officers; baseball fans know no age limit.
Darryl said he considers winning with the Mets his best time in the major leagues, but for Yankee fans, he wants them to know he likes the Bronx Bombers a lot. In fact, his favorite player in baseball currently is Derek Jeter. "He always goes and does his job, he doesn't complain, and doesn't make excuses," said Darryl. Derek Jeter epitomizes what Darryl wants the young fans to embrace. Good friendship, the right attitude, a correct focus, and listening to parents and teachers at this point in their young lives, are necessary attributes for being a success in baseball, but more importantly-in life.=