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County Executive Press Releases

Posted on: May 5, 2023

Rensselaer County and ValleyCats Team Up to Welcome Baseball Legend Darryl Strawberry

Rensselaer County and ValleyCats Team Up to Welcome Baseball Legend Darryl Strawberry to Speak About Dangers of Drug Abuse and Recovery from Addiction on June 1

Baseball legend Darryl Strawberry will join Rensselaer County and the Tri-City ValleyCats on June 1 to speak about the dangers of drug abuse and to give hope to those struggling with addiction and other issues, County Executive Steve McLaughlin announced today.

Strawberry will be guest speaker at the Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition meeting on June 1. The county Heroin Coalition brings together health professionals, drug counselors, law enforcement, parents, advocates and addiction survivors to discuss and strategize ways to beat the opioid crisis.

“Rensselaer County is invested and worked to beat back the scourge of drug addiction in county. We are excited to have an outstanding baseball star like Darryl Strawberry joining us to speak of his struggles and show there is a way to battle and win against addiction,” said McLaughlin.

Strawberry had an iconic career of nearly two decades, including one World Series win with the Mets and three with the Yankees. He was an eight-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year for the National League in 1983.

During and following his baseball career, Strawberry struggled with drugs and alcohol. Today, he is a speaker and an author on addiction and recovery, and his life story.

“Darryl Strawberry is an inspiring speaker, and his story will give hope to those struggling and lessons to those seeking a way out of addiction and a pathway to recovery,” added county Public Health Director Mary Fran Wachunas.

"This important partnership with Rensselaer County will bring further awareness to the opioid epidemic," said ValleyCats Vice President & General Manager, Matt Callahan. "The Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition continues to play a key role in addressing this crisis in our community and we are happy to support those efforts."

Strawberry will speak at the Heroin Coalition at 3 p.m., to be held in the Bulmer Telecommunications Center at the Hudson Valley Community College campus in Troy. Further details on reservations for the coalition meeting will be provided at a later date but are expected to be very limited. Strawberry will join county leaders and members of the ValleyCats organization for a press conference at 5:00 p.m. at the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, and throw out the first pitch at the ValleyCats game that evening at approximately 6:15 p.m.

Like many counties in upstate and across the nation, Rensselaer County is seeing an increase in fatal overdoses and non-fatal overdoses in recent years from heroin and fentanyl. 

The county has won awards and recognition for efforts like Naloxone Now! and free distribution of fentanyl text kits. The county has conducted free distribution of Narcan at locations across the county during the spring of 2023.

“We have seen too many lost to addiction and overdose, and we want those struggling to know there is a way out,” said McLaughlin.

“Rensselaer County is providing resources to help prevent overdose and aid in recovery. The Heroin Coalition is a very important part of our effort to direct resources and assistance, and Darryl Strawberry’s appearance on June 1 will help those important efforts,” added Wachunas.

Biography of Darryl Strawberry

Darryl Strawberry spent 17 seasons roaming the outfield in the majors for the New York Mets (1983-1990), Los Angeles Dodgers (1991-1993), San Francisco Giants (1994) and New York Yankees (1995-1999). Strawberry was selected by the Mets in the 1980 MLB draft with the 1st overall pick and made his debut in the majors on May 6, 1983. During his first season, Strawberry notched 26 home runs with 74 RBI and a batting average of .257 in route to receiving NL Rookie of the Year honors. Strawberry went on to be named an All-Star eight times and won two Silver Slugger Awards. He played on four World Series-winning teams – the 1986 Mets and 1996, 1998 and 1999 Yankees. Known for his offensive power, Strawberry recorded at least 20 home runs 10 times and at least 30 home runs three times. He led the National League in homers in 1988 with 29. In 2010, Strawberry was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Off the field, Strawberry’s well-chronicled battle with drug addiction dated back to his tenure with the Mets in the 1980’s and included jail-time and three suspensions for using cocaine. Strawberry turned his life around meeting his wife Tracy and finding Christ. In 2011, he and Tracy founded Strawberry Ministries and today they travel the world as ordained ministers sharing the gospel and spreading the message of hope through Christ. Strawberry, who also frequently speaks about his challenges with drug addiction, was appointed in 2016 by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) to its Advisory Board. In 2016, the Strawberry’s founded the Darryl Strawberry Foundation to assist people affected by autism. Strawberry, a two-time colon cancer survivor, has authored several books, including the New York Times best seller “Straw, Finding My Way” along with “Don’t Give Up On Me” and “Turn Your Season Around”.

Heroin Coalition Event (1) (1) (002)

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