Darryl Strawberry’s time in Los Angeles was interesting, to say the least. A look back at a promising start that turned into an utter disaster.
When the Dodgers signed free agent Darryl Strawberry away from the New York Mets in 1990, manager Tommy Lasorda compared it to the Los Angeles Kings acquiring Wayne Gretzky.
Coming off perhaps his best season as a professional in 1990, the tall, lanky kid from Crenshaw High School was ready to take on Hollywood. A prodigious home run hitter, Strawberry made Shea Stadium, with its expansive outfield similar to Dodger Stadium, look small. He hit 252 home runs over his first eight seasons with the Mets, including 37 the season before leaving Flushing.
Strawberry had risen to the tallest heights of stardom in New York, winning the World Series as a key player in 1986, all the while struggling with substance abuse issues. He didn’t really want to leave the Mets, but when the front office didn’t offer him what he felt was a fair contract, he decided to return home to play in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers signed him to a five-year, $20.25 million contract, the second richest terms in baseball history at the time to Jose Canseco‘s five year, $23.5 million deal with Oakland.
The only thing to sort out was where the right fielder would play. The Dodgers already had Kal Daniels set for left field and Hubie Brooks in right field, which would have pushed Strawberry into center, a position he hadn’t played since he was in high school, had the team not acquired Brett Butler later in the offseason to play center.
Darryl Strawberry’s time in Los Angeles is impossible to classify as anything other than a failure. However, it was an interesting ride along the path to his premature exit from the team.