Ex-Mets catcher Barry Lyons reveals how Darry Strawberry saved his life

A composite photo of Darryl Strawberry, Barry Lyons and Dwight Gooden.
Mets legend Darryl Strawberry is credited with putting ex-teammate Barry Lyons on the road to sobriety.

Baseball great Darryl Strawberry went from swatting homers to saving souls.

Ex-Mets catcher Barry Lyons, a recovering alcoholic, credits Straw — now an evangelical minister — with saving his life.

The 63-year-old Lyons said he’s been clean for 12 years and it was an encounter with the ex-drunk Strawberry that put him on the road to sobriety.

Barry Lyons told The Post his spiritual awakening came during a 25-year-anniversary weekend reunion party of the ’86 Mets at the former Strawberry’s Sports Grill in Douglaston, Queens.
Barry Lyons told The Post his spiritual awakening came during a 25-year-anniversary weekend reunion party of the ’86 Mets at the former Strawberry’s Sports Grill in Douglaston, Queens.

“I’m thankful to have been brought through by my faith in God, but Darryl was instrumental in [me] beginning that journey,” Lyons told The Post.

The ex-catcher’s awakening came during a 25-year-anniversary weekend reunion party of the ’86 Mets at the former Strawberry’s Sports Grill in Douglaston, Queens

“I saw Darryl and he had a big smile on his face and a glow and a peace that told me something was different. Three months later I surrendered and I gave my life to Christ,” Lyons recalled.

Lyons said his last drink was Jan. 2, 2012. “Jack Daniels, ‘ol Number 7 was my poison. For years, I couldn’t do without it,” he said.

More than 12 years later, the ex-Mets catcher is “beyond excited” to be on the guest list when the team retires Dwight Gooden’s No. 16 at CitiField on April 14 and Strawberry’s No. 18 on June. 1.

“I’m thankful to have been brought through by my faith in God, but <br>Darryl was instrumental in [me] beginning that journey,” Lyons said. Getty Images
“I’m thankful to have been brought through by my faith in God, but
Darryl was instrumental in [me] beginning that journey,” Lyons said. Getty Images
Strawberry, the Mets all-time home run leader with 252, called his <br>upcoming jersey retirement “such a great honor.” Getty Images
Strawberry, the Mets all-time home run leader with 252, called his
upcoming jersey retirement “such a great honor.” Getty Images
“I saw Darryl and he had a big smile on his face and a glow and a <br>peace that told me something was different. Three months later I <br>surrendered and I gave my life to Christ,” Lyons (above) recalled. Getty Images
“I saw Darryl and he had a big smile on his face and a glow and a
peace that told me something was different. Three months later I
surrendered and I gave my life to Christ,” Lyons (above) recalled. Getty Images

“Barry is just a good man. Always positive energy,” Gooden said, noting that he and Lyons have been close friends for years and “we can talk about anything.”

Strawberry, whose been knocked down a few times in his life, said his ability to get back up from his bouts with addiction and cancer come from his late mother, Ruby, who died in 1996.

“My sweet little mother. She raised me right. I just made the choice to live a heathen lifestyle,” Strawberry, who turns 62 on Tuesday, told The Post, of his past mistakes.

Darryl Strawberry said he tried to emulate former Mets teammates Mookie Wilson (left) and Gary Carter (right), who were men of deep faith. AP
Darryl Strawberry said he tried to emulate former Mets teammates Mookie Wilson (left) and Gary Carter (right), who were men of deep faith. AP

“I’ve been great for a long time after a struggle of suffering. … Just because we put on a uniform doesn’t make me a man. It just makes you a baseball player.”

Strawberry has been clean for almost 19 years. His breakthrough came in 2000 when he met his third wife, Tracy, at a narcotics anonymous convention in Tampa, Fla.

She had been battling drug addition but had been clean for a year before meeting the baseball great
for the first time. The couple founded Strawberry Ministries.

Lyons (above at a city Department of Education school flower planting, said he is is “beyond excited” to be on the guest list when the Mets retires Dwight Gooden’s No. 16 at CitiField on April 14 and Darryl Strawberry’s No. 18 on June. 1. Gabriella Bass
Lyons (above at a city Department of Education school flower planting, said he is is “beyond excited” to be on the guest list when the Mets retires Dwight Gooden’s No. 16 at CitiField on April 14 and Darryl Strawberry’s No. 18 on June. 1. Gabriella Bass
Dwight (Doc) Gooden, who has battled his own demons, said “everything is going well” now and “life throws you curveballs sometimes.” Christopher Sadowski
Dwight (Doc) Gooden, who has battled his own demons, said “everything is going well” now and “life throws you curveballs sometimes.” Christopher Sadowski

Though they preach faith-based recovery — Strawberry never tried to preach to anybody how they should live.

“I just tried to encourage guys that there’s a different side to life. But you have to make a conscious decision – and [take] big steps to make it happen. You have to do your part.”

The slugger said his wife’s help and mother’s prayers brought him “full circle.”

Gooden, who won a World Series with the 1996 Yankees, told The Post his Citifield retired jersey ceremony next month will be a “celebration” shared with all those who have been important to him both on and off the field. 10.29.96
Gooden, who won a World Series with the 1996 Yankees, told The Post his Citifield retired jersey ceremony next month will be a “celebration” shared with all those who have been important to him both on and off the field. 10.29.96

Strawberry’s roadtrips these days – “270 times out of the year “ – involves speaking to groups like prisoners in Hagerstown and Cumberland, Md.

“I’m just doing the work, man and helping people and encouraging people,” he said, adding, “I think so many people have always been concerned about how they start in this life, and it’s not really how you start, it’s how you finish this life.”

As for Lyons, Strawberry said he told his former hard-partying teammate that he gave his life to the Lord and the Biloxi, Miss. native — who lost his house to Hurricane Katrina and his marriage amid alcohol and marijuana addictions — saw the light on his own.

Strawberry on his influence on a wayward Lyons: “I was just living a different way. And he really wanted that for his life because he was completely on a dark road.” for the NY POST
Strawberry on his influence on a wayward Lyons: “I was just living a different way. And he really wanted that for his life because he was completely on a dark road.” for the NY POST

“I didn’t get him back on the straight and narrow. I was just living a different way. And he really wanted that for his life because he was completely on a dark road. . . . If you don’t surrender to that fact of your life, you’re eventually going to lose your life.”

Strawberry, the Mets all-time home run leader with 252, called his upcoming jersey retirement “such a great honor. I’m looking forward to that day to celebrate with my dear friends and my family.”

Strawberry, who like Gooden won World Series titles with the Yankees and Mets, said he will always love New York and the fans, but what he’s doing now is “far greater than hitting a baseball.” 7.7.96
Strawberry, who like Gooden won World Series titles with the Yankees and Mets, said he will always love New York and the fans, but what he’s doing now is “far greater than hitting a baseball.” 7.7.96

However, the slugger vowed he will “never” return to MLB in any capacity. Strawberry said he will always love New York and the fans, but what he’s doing now is “far greater than hitting a baseball.”