Darryl Strawberry Recalls Day Mets Drafted Him No. 1 Overall

Joe & Evan
June 11, 2020 - 2:00 pm
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The 2020 MLB Draft is hours away, and the Mets and Yankees will have the No. 19 and No. 28 selections in the first round, respectively.

Forty years ago to the day, the Mets had the No. 1 overall pick and used it on high school outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who joined Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts to reminisce about the day four decades ago that began with Strawberry heading to Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.

“I was excited about it. My mom dropped me off at school, and I kind of figured I was going to be drafted, I just didn’t know where,” Strawberry told Joe & Evan. “I knew a lot of scouts had been talking to me, and I knew the Mets were considering me or Billy Beane, they weren’t sure which one.”

Strawberry was indeed the top pick, and the Mets ended up getting both, taking the future master of Moneyball with the No. 23 selection – and as long-suffering fan Benigno quipped, “for once (the Mets) made the right choice Darryl, they rarely do!”

The Mets actually got three baseball lifers in that first round, and Strawberry found out about his selection thanks to his coach at the time.

“They got me, Billy, and (future Red Sox and Blue Jays manager) John Gibbons in that draft,” Strawberry recalled. “But I remember them pulling me out of class and taking me to the baseball field. The coach said there was a photographer there that wanted some pictures. They had a Mets hat, and they told me I had been selected by the New York Mets.”

Quite the culture shock, even for a kid from the next-largest city in America.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘where is New York?’ because I had never been out of California!” Strawberry laughed. “But I was excited, and I wanted to get going and show that I was going to be a baseball player.”

And success in that field came quickly for Straw, who won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1983 but made an impression on his future teammates earlier than that.

“As I started to develop and go through the minor leagues, I went to big-league camp in spring training one year and performed well,” Strawberry said, “and the older guys were like, ‘man, this kid doesn’t even know how good he is, he just hit two home runs and it was like nothing.’ I was like 20 or 21 years old, so I wasn’t thinking about it, but they were, and I ended up making it and playing at a high level.”

Maybe not quite the nine homers an animated Straw hit in a famous episode of The Simpsons, but the beginning of a love affair with the Big Apple that is still mutual.

“It was so exciting to be able to play in front of New York fans. I love Mets fans forever, they made my life and made become the player I was,” Strawberry admitted. “Regardless of everything that happened after and in between, if it hadn’t been for playing in front of Mets fans, I wouldn’t have been as successful. They pushed me, and made me believe in myself.”

Just a few short hours after saying all that, Strawberry will see another young man realize his dream by being selected No. 1 overall (this time by Detroit), who will hope for that same result