After a strong debut season, Darryl Strawberry never played a full season again for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Darryl Strawberry, who battled with substance abuse issues for much of his adult life, somehow kept himself in the lineup almost everyday over the first nine years of his career. After playing in at least 120 games every single season except 1985, when he played in 111, he would only suit up for 210 games over the next six years, beginning in 1992.
Everything started falling apart for the left-handed power hitter during his second season with the Dodgers. After experiencing back issues early in the season, Strawberry delayed surgery, before finally agreeing to it in September, losing several months of possible recovery time. With whispers that he was mixing with the wrong crowd from his hometown in Crenshaw, and frustrations started to boil over with the fanbase, things turned ugly quickly.
Just one season removed from his mega, five-year, $20.25 million contract, Strawberry was a giant question mark in the Dodgers lineup. Would he be healthy enough to play? How impactful was his back injury to his lack of production when he did play? Were there too many distractions off the field?
The left-hander hit only five home runs in 43 games in 1992, the same amount he would hit the following season in just 32 games played. His batting average plummeted to .140 during his final season in Los Angeles.
By September of 1993, the right fielder’s fall from grace hit another low point when he was arrested for allegedly striking a woman that he lived with at the time. No criminal charges were filed, but it added to the noise surrounding the former superstar, who said he contemplated suicide late in the season.
The offseason brought more controversy when he said during a radio interview about the Los Angeles brush fires, “Let it burn. I don’t live there any more.”
After a turbulent offseason that also included the IRS investigating him for tax evasion, the breaking point with the Dodgers came in early April when he missed the team’s final exhibition game against the Angels. The next day he admitted he had a substance abuse problem and was placed on the disabled list before the Dodgers reached a monetary agreement and released him in May.
Strawberry would eventually sign with the Giants where he played in limited action during the 1994 season.
The story of the Crenshaw kid returning to Hollywood ended with Strawberry playing only one full season of his five-year contract, hitting 10 home runs over two calendar years after hitting 280 in the previous nine seasons of his career.