Wasted Quarter Presents: Darryl Strawberry

You know, just to stay on the safe side, don't read this story.

It's really stupid...


"Hey you God Damn Dood! When are you going to write about Darryl Strawberry?"

Hmmmm... I don't know...

I've never thought of it...

Doktor John sent me that text a couple of years ago now. I'd started writing this story almost immediately after I read it, but that was well over two and a half years ago now.

Doktor John not being a baseball fan, surprised me with the reference. Darryl Strawberry was a hobby megastar during the first half of the Junk Wax Era, but I wasn't a collector of his cards. Not because I hated the Mets or anything. After all, my favorite player of that era was a New York Met...


And a near-member of the 1994 Minnesota Twins! (in Spring Training only...)

But Darryl Strawberry wasn’t much of a blip on my baseball following radar. The Mets were a National League team, and in those days, you didn’t see the National League in an American League city. This story will have nothing to do with Jeff Innis, and less to do with Darryl Strawberry, than it does something COMPLETELY different.

Robert Pays Rent!

I'll explain...


At it's core, this is a Wasted Quarter story from January 2002. I try not to dip into the WQ well too often for Four Baggers material. The two are separate projects, and should be kept separate. However, there are pieces that appeared in an old issue of Wasted Quarter that I liked so much, some of them need to be revisited here.

That being said, this story will likely annoy or irritate nearly every reader I have. Except for probably one. So this one is only for us! Gotta do stuff like this every once in a while... 

Even though I wasn't seriously considering getting a roommate, which wouldn't have made any sense given that apartment, Doktor John suggested I just have Robert Smith move in with me. 


But not that Robert Smith...


THAT Robert Smith...

Comedian Brian Posehn once said: "If you want to piss a nerd off, get his obsession wrong."

Which is where the seeds of Robert Pays Rent really started. A throwaway joke about me getting a roommate to share expenses in my tiny and crappy, one bedroom apartment in Englewood, CO. However, much like many of our in-jokes, this one grew legs and took off on a life or it's own. Spanning several expensive long distance phone calls (remember when you had to pay extra for long distance phone calls, before cell phones rendered them obsolete?) to Fridley, Minnesota, during November and December, 2001.  

Never mind the absurdity of a musician, and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, moving into and sharing my crappy one bedroom apartment. Still, we spent hours making up bizarre scenarios that would unfold when John's caricature of Robert Smith meets his interpretation of what he thought my everyday life was like.

Which in itself was endlessly amusing to me.


Kenyon Place Apartments flyer, circa October 1996.

To get an idea of what those living conditions would have been like, I was renting in the 1 bedroom apartment shown on the right side of this flyer. A massive 480 square foot palace, complete with kitchen hallway! My home from October, 1996 through September, 2003. 


Quite often as I was getting home from work in the morning, I'd catch Robert Smith lurking in the bushes, waiting for me. All cold and shivery, since he'd locked himself out of the apartment for the fifth time in seven days. 

One of the future Robert Smith scenarios we made up, had me coming home from work early on night. Only to find that Robert Smith had opened up all of my boxed toys, and was holding a massive multi-brand and genre battle, in the middle of my living room. When the good Doktor worked up his best Cockney accent for the line: "Here comes Darryl Strawberry, the coked up New York Met... He's doing battle with Starscream!"

I knew that I had to find a way to create that image. 

First, I needed a 1988 Kenner Starting Line Up Darryl Strawberry action figure.

I already had a Starscream.

Keeping a fair amount of baseball content into this stupid babble about the king of goth, I'll fill in a bunch of wikipediaish factoids and show off some of my favorite Darryl Strawberry cards in the process. Not an official Whatever, but this whole story will be filed under the category of Whatever, so it all works out.

Bring on the Wikipedia!

Darryl Eugene Strawberry (born March 12, 1962) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder, who played 17 seasons with the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. During his career, he helped lead the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986, and the New York Yankees to three of their too many World Series championships in 1996, 1998 and 1999. 


1985 Topps Draft Pick

Darryl Strawberry was taken first overall in the 1980 Major League Baseball Draft, by the New York Mets. Commemorated in the 1st Overall Draft Pick subset, from 1985 Topps. I was a big fan of those cards from my earliest days of collecting. Most of the players I hadn't heard of, but there a few familiar names. And it took me a while to figure out why Tim Belcher was wearing an Oakland A's uniform, with the card listing him with the Minnesota Twins. And I only knew of him as a Dodgers pitcher.


1983 Topps Traded

Strawberry quickly advanced through the Mets farm system and reached the major leagues in 1983. He missed the first month of the 1983 season, but hit .257, with 26 home runs, 7 triples and 74 RBI's. All at 21 years of age. He was named the National League Rookie of The Year for 1983, after the season. 

Darryl Strawberry's lone rookie card is found in the 1983 Topps Traded set. Even when his career stumbled significantly, this card was still fairly hot. It commanded a good price throughout the Junk Wax Era, and even after, when Strawberry was a shell of his 1980's glory days. I finally acquired my copy in the Summer of 2000, when I bought the full 1983 Topps Traded set from Mike's Sports Cards in Englewood, CO. 

I had recently bought a complete 1983 Topps set, from that very same store. A month or so later, the 1983 Topps Traded set showed up in the store. Unfortunately, it came in a plain white card box, instead of those spiffy designed Topps Traded boxes that Topps used from 1981-1991. But I had the base set, so I needed the Traded set. That's simple math. And 1983 Topps rules!

Five years later, after I'd moved away from, and back to Englewood, CO, I picked up a second copy of the 1983 Topps Traded Darryl Strawberry rookie card. Mike had one in his second vintage baseball case, for a really good price. This was one of the first singles I picked up, when I decided to start focus on buying the singles that I wanted from my earlier collecting years, back in 2005.


It wasn't this case, which featured the older vintage baseball, but the one next to it, focusing on the newer older vintage cards, that had the Strawberry inside. I didn't get a decent picture of that case during Mike's Going Out Of Business Sale, in June of 2013.

What a sad day that was...


Like all of the sadness around Mike’s, back when Robert Smith was hanging out in front of the store, waiting for me to show up. Harassing me to buy him Beanie Babies or Dragon BallZ instead of the latest Expos cards to hit the case.

A few years before Mike closed his card shop, I asked him if he had the 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup Darryl Strawberry figure. I said I needed it for a project I was working on, and the packaging did not need to be pristine since I'd be opening it. I started trying to explain what I needed it for, then thought better of it. 

As cool as Mike was, I doubt he’d appreciate the reference…


It was probably over a year after I brought it up, when Mike presented me with that long desired 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup Darryl Strawberry figure.

Now I could spend a big buncha time making my stupid picture!

That is being made to commemorate a big buncha stupid jokes that only we find funny!

That will now live on forever floating in cyberspace, to the amusement of absolutely no one else!


Doktor John and I go all the way back to High School. 1992 specifically.


Where both of us hated every single thing about it, every single day we were there…

But we kept our sanity by taking absolutely none of it seriously. 


Just a blur of strange Where's Waldo milk carton cartoons...


Tokens taken off Pirate shoes...


I felt my lunch well up in my throat...


Autograph signings with Jesus...

Then stranding him on live local cable access television.


With nothing more than large wooden tableware and sunglasses to work with.


Then through semi-regular overnight shift appearances during the days of 99 Spillihp.


It didn't matter if it made sense, as long as we found it amusing.


And that would continue with mid-1990's AOL Internet access, chatroom trolling at Ninja School.

Hey Tickertyboo!

Even after I left Minnesota, I knew I could count on the support of my primary Doktor when it was needed.


Especially when he was right there with me, when I had to take Scratching in Welder Helmet lessons from Crazy Carl, just before the world premier of Wasted Quarter issue 51.

A spotlight the size of which should be reserved for someone of great fame.

Like a professional athlete!

Like Darryl Strawberry!


1984 Donruss

1984 Donruss is recognized as one of the more significant sets of the 1980's. Even today, his card remains one of the most expensive in the 1984 Donruss set. Trailing only Don Mattingly's rookie card, albeit by a significant deal. Obviously not as popular today as it was when Strawberry was a budding superstar in the mid 1980's, you can still get a few bucks for these today. 


1986 Fleer Baseball's Best

Strawberry had two three-home run games in his career. Both of which came against Chicago teams and were almost exactly 11 years apart. The first came against the Cubs on August 5, 1985, and the second was on August 6, 1996, against the White Sox.


1987 Donruss

Darryl Strawberry was the starting right fielder for the National League All-Star team,  five straight times and appeared at nine All-Star games, total. He batted .333 with two stolen bases and two runs scored, in 12 career All-Star at-bats. 

Wait, what’s this?


A letter from Doktor John arrived in the mail, postmarked December 7, 2001.


Amongst the contents, were 4 typewritten pages comprising the first act of Robert Pays Rent! John typed this up as a submission for the upcoming issue of Wasted Quarter I was just finishing up. Knowing this was coming, I'd gladly bend my rigid deadlines.

Unfortunately, there was never a Robert Pays Rent Act II...

However, that didn't stop us from brainstorming all kids of wacky antics for Robert Smith to get himself into while living with me... Act II was planned to be a discussion of the "house rules" for living with me. Further acts would include Robert Smith traveling with me to Minnesota, where he'd meet my parents and stay at their house, while I was on vacation. Even further down the road, I'd likely have to go on tour with him and The Cure...



******

Act One - Scene One

******

We see our hero, Honkass, lounging on the sofa in ratty underwear and an Ottawa Senators hockey jersey. In his left hand is a smoldering bong, in his right, the TV Remote. The noises of professional wrestling fill the stage, as the television casts an unhealthy blue pallor over the already pasty Honkass. Baseball magazines and Transformers litter the floor, and the upright video games emit an occasional blip of protest. A small grey cat paws nonchalantly through piles of dirty clothes. As Honkass raises the bong to his mouth for another hit, the phone rings...

Honkass: (coughing) Hello?

Robert: (In thick Limey accent) Uh... so sorry to interrupt... uh... the room for.. uh... rent? I mean, is it... do you... I am after all employed. My band has been, I mean, I can pay bills and rent wouldn’t be a problem, I can pay... oh I’m sorry... so sorry...

Honkass: Dude, slow down, I can hardly understand you. Can you hold on a second? (as Robert mumbles more incoherent apologies, Honkass casually takes another bong hit. Then a sound of exhalation) OK, so you’re calling about the room for rent? Well it’s not too big, and you’ll have to share it with Pac Man and the General. Plus there is a retarded guy in the building who will accost you anytime you go out for a smoke. The Transformers museum is off limits, as are the baseball cards, my bootlegs, my trenchcoat, the porn collection, the Mario Bothers stand up and most of the bathroom.

(A long silence ensues...)

Honkass: You still there?


(Looks like Robert stole my shirt…)

Robert: Did you say Pac Man?

Honkass: Uh, yeah... The little yellow guy, eating cherries, avoiding ghosts... (Honkass screams as the General digs his claws into Honk’s testicles and Kurt Angle loses his championship belt to Stone Cold Steve Austin.)


Kurt ruled...

Robert (weeping softly): Did you say... retarded Transformers... something about smoking retards, a bootleg trenchcoat? Mario Brothers pornography? I DON’T UNDERSTAND! (sobbing)

Honkass: Um... All right... (sounding puzzled) Well, I get off work around seven in the morning, so how about 8:30?

Robert: Sunlight? It just keeps getting worse, doesn’t it. Very well. (Robert hangs up the phone.)

Honkass: Hello? Hello? Hello? (Honkass shrugs, hangs up the phone, and lights the bong again. Small grey cat exit stage left, fade to black.)

******


1987 Fleer

Darryl Strawberry hit 27 homers and had 93 RBIs in 1986.


1987 Fleer World Series

Which helped the Mets win the World Series.

And that's a good thing for them...


1987 Fleer Superstar Specials

In 1987, Strawberry hit 39 home runs and stole 36 bases. Becoming one of only 10 players in MLB history (at that point) to join the exclusive 30–30 club. He also hit 32 doubles and drove in 104 runs during the 1987 season.

However, the 1987 New York Mets missed the playoffs. 


And I could never get away from Robert. No matter what I was doing, he'd stay perched on the couch. The only time he ever left the apartment, was when I did. He'd time all of his everyday errands to times I was also out. Strangely he'd always appear already at, wherever I was going.


1988 Drake's Big Hitters

Did those red "Big Hitters" banners really need to take up so much of the card design?

In 1988, Strawberry once again lead the National League with 39 home runs, with 101 RBI's, while leading the league in slugging percentage (.545) and OPS (.911). Strawberry led the Mets to the 1988 National League Championship Series, where they lost in seven games, to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. As a double slap, he finished second in NL MVP voting to Kirk Gibson. Who also happened to play for the Dodgers, and hit a World Series home run you may have heard of...


1988 Fleer

The New York Mets were one of the premier teams in the National League, from 1984–1990. Led by Strawberry, they finished either in first or second in the NL East, every year. During that same period, Strawberry was very popular in the hobby. With his likeness used on cards, programs, action figures (like that Kenner's Starting Lineup pictured previously), posters and whatever else MLB used to promote him (and the game) with. 

******

Act One - Scene Two - Part One

******

Same apartment as before, but now somewhere around 8 o’clock in the morning. Honkass returns from work. We see the door open as he casually removes his trenchcoat and hangs it on a nearby coat rack. He is flipping through the mail and the General paces around his feet, wailing plaintively. Honkass pops in a porno video and flops on the couch takes the bong from the coffee table and begins to smoke. The phone rings...

Honkass: Hello?

Robert: Oh, so sorry... I’m the guy from yesterday... the apartment... I came to have a look, but if it’s a problem... maybe another time. So early.... the sun is killing me... (continues babbling)

Honkass: No problem, let me buzz you up. (Honkass presses the button near the door, opening the security gate. Honkass hides the bong behind the couch and makes a futile effort to clean up. Seconds later, a knock at the door.)

Enter Robert Smith

Honkass opens the door to an empty alcove, looking around puzzled. We see a frizzy head of hair appear just on the periphery of the door frame. A pair of frightened eyes appear next, then suddenly disappear... Honkass looks to his right and see a rather fat man in a ratty black sweater and bulky white hi-tops running wildly down the corridor, tangled mane of black hair blowing wildly in the stiff Colorado breeze...

Honkass: Hello? Is that you Robert? (Robert stops and walks slowly backwards. It takes several minutes for him to traverse the entire length of the corridor walking this way.) How goes it my corpulent friend?

Robert: Please I insist you mustn’t look at me... The daylight hours... so ugly... I’m not even human... avert your eyes...

Honkass: All right then... (sounding bemused) Come on in. (Robert enters the apartment, still walking backwards. The General leaps onto his shoulders and Robert collapses in a heap, sobbing like a bitch.) Never mind Hafaaz... he’s very protective of the Bootlist and such. Can I get you a beer or something?

Robert: Seven.

Honkass: Pardon me?

Robert: Seven. I’d like at least seven beers. Killing the pain... you wouldn’t understand. (Honkass goes to the fridge and removes seven beers. His arms full, he returns to the living room to find Robert rolling around playfully with the General.)

Honkass: Here you go dude, hope you don’t mind Busch.

******


1989 Fleer

For the 1989 season, Strawberry's offensive numbers fell drastically. Totaling only 29 home runs and 77 RBI's, with an unsuperstarrish .225 batting average. Coincidentally, the Mets finished in a close second place to the Chicago Cubs, in the National League East.


1989 Upper Deck

Even after five years in the league, Strawberry was still known for his disruptive behavior amongst teammates. Once getting into a physical altercation with New York Mets captain Keith Hernandez, on team picture day. Another time, he got into a war of words with Mets second basemen Wally Backman...


1989 Upper Deck Wally Backman

Threatening on one occasion, to "bust that little redneck in the face". 

Perhaps a contributing reason the Mets shipped Backman to the Twins in December 1988?

Perhaps if Strawberry and his New York Mets teammates, had a better understanding of other people's boundaries, all of these little misunderstandings could have been smoothed over?


Respecting boundaries were a problem when living with Robert Smith. He found it hilarious to smear lipstick all over The Archives, when I wasn't looking. Ruined an entire set of Wasted Quarter proofs with red wet kisses and Sharpie arguments with the voices he didn't agree with.

The reason Wasted Quarter 53 had no images? 

Bobbo sent them to Ecuador.

I still can't legally speak of what he did to the 1999-2000 notebook journal...


1985 Topps

Rather notoriously, Darryl Strawberry had several run-ins with teammates and management throughout his stay with the Mets. He was also suspended three times by MLB for substance abuse. Looking back on his Major League career, it could be argued that all the potential he showed in 1983, went unfulfilled.

Due to various extracurricular activities. 

(Booger sugar.)


1990 Leaf

In 1990, Strawberry rebounded from his poor 1989 season. Hitting 37 home runs, driving in 108, with a .277 batting average. Good enough for third place in the MVP voting. The Mets finished in second place in the NL East, three games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. 1990 would be Strawberry's last season with the New York Mets.

But I still really like 1990 Leaf!


1990 Post

Strawberry's Mets tenure was littered with multiple episodes of oversleeping. Which caused him to be late for -if not completely missing- team meetings and workouts. 

Perhaps if Darryl committed to eating a healthy breakfast every morning, just as I did in 1990, in order to collect these cards! The Spring and Summer of 1990 saw me eating A TON of Post Alpha Bits cereal. And I rarely used milk. Just sitting on the broken couch of Basement World, audio tapes of Dr. Demento shows playing over 8-Bit Nintendo games, with a big ass yellow bowl full of dry Alpha Bits.

Now that was living!


******

Act One - Scene Two - Part Two

******


Robert: It’s true what they say... All Cats Are Grey, aren’t they?

Honkass: Um, yeah... (staring quizzically) Well, I’ll give you the dime tour. (Honkass proceeds to show Robert around the apartment. Stopping periodically to show points of interest. Upon seeing the Transformers shrine, Robert runs shrieking from the bedroom and collapses on the living room floor, mumbling about always feeling like a plastic robot himself.) 

Honkass: (Looking confused) If you feel well enough, I can show you the kitchen.

Robert: Do you really mean it? (wiping tears from his eyes) Preparing food makes me wish I were dead. (Honkass leads the way as Robert crawls on all fours making noises like a tiger.)

We see Honkass open the fridge and Robert recoils as the light hits him. Upon spying a package of hamburger, he bursts into tears and grabs wildly for another beer. While doing so, he knocks over a bottle of barbecue sauce and shrieks madly. Then Robert tears across the kitchen, pulling a tablecloth from the kitchen table, puts it over his head and hides near the stove, shivering.

Honkass: I guess that concludes the tour... any questions?

Robert: Why are you doing this to me?

Honkass: Doing what?

Robert: What do you mean what? You mean being passive aggressive? Telling me to leave? Or do you mean merely abandoning me?

Honkass: It’s just that I have to masturbate, watch wrestling and then go to bed. Maybe a little weed in between. But do give me a call if you decide you want to move in. So far no one else has responded to the ad... Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I answered the door naked a couple of times. Either way... I’m usually home before eight or so.

(Robert starts signing the lyrics to “Trust” and slowly walks towards the door, still wearing the tablecloth. Honkass reaches out and pulls it off his head just as Robert steps out the door and runs away.)

Robert: (Tripping on the step before leaving) Why me? 

(He disappears into the night, now screaming the lyrics to “The Funeral Party.”)


Why not Harold and Joe?


The Cure - Harold and Joe - London 2014

******


1991 Donruss

A free agent after the 1990 season, Strawberry signed with his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. This would be a hefty (for it's day) five-year, $22.25 million contract. Big news for the sport and the hobby, Upper Deck managed to get a Strawberry Dodgers card into packs of their 1991 base set. A several month jump on all the mid-season sets started coming out, for actual Strawberry Dodger cards.

1991 Donruss Series 2, had the second Dodger Strawberry card. Topps, Fleer and Score opted to wait for their year end Update/Traded sets. This one featured a photo from the Dodgers press conference, to announce the signing. I always liked this card, since it was novel for it's time.


1991 Fleer

Strawberry's batting stance started with a high leg kick. He was one of the first batters I can remember using that as the trigger to their swing. Kirby Puckett had an exaggerated leg kick as well. Can't say whether or not he learned it from Strawberry. 

I can say there is entirely too much yellow going on here.


1991 Fleer ProVision

Darryl Strawberry was one of the most feared sluggers in the sport, for the first six years with the Mets. Making him an obvious inclusion in the earliest of modern insert sets. Pro-Vision (and the All Stars) cards were the ONLY reason to buy 1991 Fleer wax packs.


Robert Smith would often tag along on running my day-to-day Aarons, such as getting groceries at the neighborhood Safeway. While we are there, he'd often cause a scene. Not only for his bizarre appearance or signing spontaneous songs about baked goods, but he'd also loudly demand me to buy him things that weren't on that day's shopping list. 


Like Mr. Cookie Face... While undeniably delicious, the official ice cream sandwich of Wasted Quarter, and aging child-like pop stars, wasn't something the Honkass household was going to eat multiple times a day. And we need the room in the freezer for more Safeway brand toaster waffles..


1991 Ultra

In California, Darryl Strawberry was named Big Brother of The Year for 1991. After hitting 28 home runs and driving in 99, for a successful first year with the Dodgers. Unfortunately, injuries and personal problems kept him sidelined for much of the next two seasons. During which, he hit a total of 10 home runs. Five home runs in each season.


1992 Bowman

Strawberry's numbers tailed off considerably after 1991, with injuries to blame for missing large chunks of time. Between 1992 and 1993, he only played in 75 of a possible 324 Dodger games. 


1992 Stadium Club

At the end of the 1991 season, Strawberry had 280 career home runs at the age of 29. Some were making comparisons to (then) home run king Hank Aaron. I could never take any talk of Strawberry approaching Hank Aaron's records seriously. 


Strawberry appeared, as himself, in The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat", which aired February 20, 1992. I remember being so excited for this episode, and I had to work a pointless three hour shift at the Coon Rapids Perkins, and would miss the original airing. Sure the VCR was set to record it, but what if I messed up a setting? 

I have no idea when this episode would rerun. North Central Cable Television's OnDemand feature blows!

No worries. I got to watch the episode a little after 10:30, just before going to bed.

Despite Strawberry getting pulled by Mr. Burns in the bottom of the 9th inning, so a right handed hitting Homer Simpson could pinch hit, Strawberry was still very popular in the hobby. He still ranked as one of the most sought-after cards in each years sets.


1993 O Pee-Chee

Except for O Pee Chee...

No one seems to like these cards...


******

Act One - Scene Three

******

Honkass’ apartment, about 9 at night. The General is sleeping peacefully beside Honkass on the couch. Century Sex plays in the background. Honkass is chuckling softly and eating Hamburger Helper. The phone rings...


"That is the worst thing on the planet! I MUST own it!"

Honkass: Um, hello?

Robert: (Sound of someone blowing their nose and soft weeping...)

Honkass: Dr. John, are you OK?

Robert: Dr. who?

Honkass: Yeah that was a pretty cool show.

Robert: Sweet Jesus, you’ve already forgotten me. I just wanted... such a nice place... the kitten... Pac man... Back issues of Hawk... so sorry...

Honkass: Hi Robert... (sounding disdainful)

Robert: I... well... after seeing the place... if it’s alright... first of the month... damage deposit... it could be so beautiful my Honkass...

Honkass: So you want to move in?

Robert: (long silence) Turning me away, waiting for it... oh, why do I bother....

Honkass: No no, that’s fine. it’s just that I have to work tonight and wont be home. Is there someplace I can meet you for lunch tomorrow?

Robert: You’ll meet me? Oh... (the sound of Robert vomiting, then the toilet flushes) Oh my sweet Honkass.... you know, nervous stomach... such good news... lunch then?

Honkass: Uh, yeah.... How about Chuck-E-Cheese right by the apartment? I fucking love that mechanical mouse.

Robert: (screaming) Woooo woooooo woooooooooo YESSSSS!!! Skee ball... skill crane... ball crawl... fabulous idea Honkass... fabulous. How about 11 o clock?

Honkass: Whatever. Gotta go, I’m busy downloading naked pictures of Jeff Innis. (hangs up phone)

The curtain closes as pictures begin spitting out of the printer, Honkass raises his arms in an expression of happiness.


The Cure - Cut- Detroit, July, 1992

******


1993 Upper Deck Darryl Strawberry & Eric Davis

Strawberry's longtime friend Eric Davis signed with the Dodgers for the 1992 season, fulfilling a dream the two of them had. Both playing in their hometown team's outfield. They accomplished it, but it wasn't pretty. Davis never stopped struggling at the plate, as Strawberry collected injuries. Davis was traded to Detroit in August 1993. He didn't fare much better in Detroit.


1993 Upper Deck Then & Now

Strawberry took part in the Mets 1986 World Championship Team Reunion on August 19, 2006, receiving a standing ovation from the Shea Stadium fans, in an on-field ceremony. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 12, 2006.

I remember watching that game, and may have seen that Strawberry first pitch on the TV that day...


1994 Fleer Update

The Dodgers grew tired of dealing with Strawberry, and released him from his contract in May of 1994. He signed with the San Francisco Giants, but only saw limited playing time as he tried to make a comeback. For the year, he hit just four home runs, driving in 17, before the strike ended the 1994 season early.


Robert Smith spent a lot of his time at Kenyon, bothering the General. Who showed very little interest in him being there. Of course Robert Smith would pop up and try to scare him, or sing to him, or try to dress him in a funny hat. The General would have none of it. Then they'd chase each other all over my 430 square foot apartment. Knocking over everything in their way for 45 or so minutes.

Astute readers may notice this desk as the same one a 1996 Doktor John was using to repeatedly type "Mmmmmmm! Heroin!" in the Recovery-Link AOL chat room. When I moved to Colorado, I bought the desk from Ninja School for a few bucks, moved it to Englewood with me, and used it daily until October 2001.

This was the day I broke it down in favor of a new desk.

General Hafaaz Supacat not wanting to let it go.


1994 Flair

Darryl Strawberry is one of few players in MLB history, (Ricky Ledée and José Vizcaíno, are two other I know of offhand) to have played for all four of the former and current New York based MLB teams; the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers and Giants.


1997 Pinnacle Inside

Strawberry has stated that his father was an alcoholic who was verbally and physically abusive to him and his brothers. He attributes his initial alcohol and drug use to the pain he endured as a child and his subsequent substance abuse to the pressures of performing in New York.


1995 Fleer

1995 Fleer was a card set designed to look like one of Mr. Strawberry's drug trips...

And this is one of the tamer cards in that horrifying set.

After a suspension from the league at the beginning of 1995, for a positive cocaine test, Strawberry signed with the New York Yankees for the stretch run. Posting a fine .276 / .364 / .448 slash line, over 99 plate appearances.


The next year, Darryl signed with the Saint Paul Saints of the Northern League on May 3, 1996, in an attempt to show major league organizations that he was healthy and could contribute.

On June 2, the Saints faced the Duluth–Superior Dukes at Wade Stadium, in Duluth. Strawberry hit his first home run for the Saints, off former Detroit Tigers pitcher Pat Ahearne. 

Strawberry played in 29 games for the St. Paul Saints, destroying Northern League pitching to a ridiculous .435 / .538 / 1.000 slash line. 18 home runs and 39 RBI's over 132 plate appearances. The New York Yankees came calling, warmed Strawberry up for 2 games in AAA Columbus, then got him into 63 Yankees games.

Soon thereafter, he found himself back with the Yankees.


An offer to appear at our Honkass Scrabble Tournament, which would be held at Ninja School, went unanswered during that same time. (No such offer was ever made.) One could only imagine the kind of words Mr. Strawberry would have come up with when paired against Dr. John, Trav, Fiene or myself... 


Honkass Scrabble was enjoying a brief resurgence of popularity that Summer, not seen since the games origins in the late 1980's Basement World.


"This is where the soy is kept. In the Soylair."

On December 19, 1995, Darryl Strawberry was charged in California for failing to make child support payments. He missed a June 5, 1996, deadline to pay the child support, and a Los Angeles judge set a trial date of July 17, 1996. Strawberry then agreed to use his New York Yankees signing bonus (who signed him on July 4, 1996), to pay off the debt.

And that's just a big buncha Homiedanshoes...


1996 Ultra

There wasn't a lot of New York Mets cards that showed Strawberry's leg kick. Which is odd because there was simply way too many Strawberry Mets cards printed before 1991. By the late 1990's, and Strawberry's cross town move to the Yankees, nearly every other Strawberry card was of that leg kick.


1997 Stadium Club

Back with the Yankees for the second half of the 1996 season, he showed flashes of his former brilliance, hitting .262 with 11 home runs in only 63 games. Despite it being only part time, Strawberry played a key role in helping the Yankees win the World Series. Joining him were former New York Mets teammates Dwight Gooden and David Cone, in playing prominent roles on the team. 


1997 Topps Gallery

1997 was mostly lost, due to being a badly bruised Strawberry. He only played in 11 games, hit zero home runs, with just two runs batted in.


1997 Upper Deck

But in 1998, Strawberry had an impressive .896 OPS, with 24 home runs, in 101 games. His first season of even playing in 100 games since 1991. He was the main Designated Hitter for the 1998 New York Yankees, who won 114 regular season games, and yet another World Series championship. 

Just as the Yankees were preparing for the playoffs, on October 1, 1998, Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer. Two days later, he had a tumor and 24 inches of his colon removed. The surgery caused him to miss the entire 1998 postseason, including the Yankees rapid disposal of the San Diego Padres.


******

Act One - Scene Four

******


The exterior of Chuck-E-Cheese. The neon marquee flickers as Robert sleeps under a yellow and orange awning. The Blueberry Honksicle enters stage right, car stereo blaring Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” Honkass exits the vehicle and approaches the still sleeping Robert, nudging him gently with his toe. Robert wakes with girlish yelp, then recognizes Honkass and leaps nimbly into his arms.

Robert: I’ve been sleeping here all night... so afraid to miss you... Time for pizza my Honkass.

Honkass: Uh... sure. But could you please stop calling me “My Honkass?” It’s beginning to creep me out. And I don’t think the employees of this fine establishment would take kindly to what would appear to be two gay guys making living arrangements right next to six year old Timmy’s birthday party.

Robert hangs his head and walks inside, crying softly. As Honkass follows, the stage goes dark

******


1999 Upper Deck

On April 3, 1999, Strawberry was arrested in Tampa, Florida for soliciting sex from a police officer, posing as a prostitute. He had a small amount of cocaine in his possession, when he was arrested. Major League Baseball suspended him for 140 days, over the incident. Strawberry pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to community service and 21 months probation.

He was able to make a comeback from the cancer treatment, but saw limited playing time due to the suspension. On the year, he batted .327 and hit 3 home runs, in just 24 games. Which would end up being the final year of his career.


1984 Topps

In 1984, Strawberry made the National League All-Star game. It was the first of 8 consecutive All Star appearances (the first 5 as a starter) for Darryl. He never made another All Star team after that streak ended.


My hardest battle with Robert Smith would be keeping him away from the Transformers. He was positively enamored with them, and I was constantly slapping his wrists for folding up Shockwave the wrong way. There was also a stretch of time where Robert Smith was sending me up to the 7-11 for C cell batteries almost as often as I was going up there for smokes. Turns out he was using Trypticon to do a slow mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex chase of General Hafaaz Supacat, around the apartment.

Not to mention smearing lipstick all over He-Man, and his army.


1992 Upper Deck

Strawberry didn't sign with any MLB organization for the 2000 season. Cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, and he underwent another surgery to remove a tumor near his left kidney in August 2000. (And sure wasn't looking very lifelike in this photo either.)


1987 Topps

Less than a month later, Strawberry tried to drive on painkillers. But he promptly blacked out and hit another car. An off-duty police officer witnessed the accident and arrested him. Strawberry's probation was changed to two years of house arrest. 


1988 Score

On October 25, 2000, Strawberry left a Tampa drug treatment center, took drugs and violated his parole and house arrest. Strawberry told a Tampa judge on November 3, 2000, that he had lost his will to live and had stopped chemotherapy. Strawberry was sentenced to a year of probation and community service. 


1991 Classic

Strawberry was released from jail on November 30, and sent back to rehab. He was later arrested for leaving his house arrest in Tampa, in April 2001. A month later, he was sentenced to more time at a drug treatment center.


1994 Collector's Choice Silver Signature

Strawberry was back in jail in March, 2002, for violating several non-drug related rules at the treatment center, while he was on probation. He was ordered to serve the 22-month suspended prison sentence, from 1999.


1988 Topps Big

Strawberry was released from prison on April 8, 2003, after serving 11 months behind bars.


******

Act One - Scene Five

******

Inside Chuck-E-Cheese. Small children run about screaming, laughing and pointing at Honkass. He rolls his eyes and lets out a sonorous “Baaaaauaaaaaa...” as Robert holds his hands to his head, clearly expressing amazement at all the games and lights. While Honkass makes his way to a table near the animatronic mouse, Robert is seen taking off his shoes seconds before scream “Yeaaaayyy!!! Balls!!!” and disappearing into the Ball Crawl. Honkass rolls his eyes again, and -much to the horror of neighboring families- lights up a Winston. After being told to put it out, Robert approaches, colorful plastic balls sticking to his nappy hair.  As the robotic Mouse comes to life, Robert screams at Honkass over the music.

Robert: Did you see me, my Honkass? How I swam so well in the balls? Diving and surfacing again and again? Oh, how the children laughed... I played with my balls and they laughed...

Honkass: You’re doing it again Robert.

Robert ignores Honkass’s protests and runs off toward the token machine skipping on the way. He gets ten dollars in tokens and cups then in his hands, smelling and twirling around in ecstasy. He approaches the skee-ball lanes and begins throwing them madly, shouting “It’s skee-ball... I’m in love!” Honkass sighs deeply and walks toward the bathroom. As the stage goes dark, we see Robert jumping up and down, waving stuffed animals he won playing skill crane. Honkass opens an adjacent bathroom door and the stage goes black.


The Cure - Pornography - Berlin, November, 2002

******


1993 SP

After a few years of complete drug induced chaos, Strawberry worked hard at cleaning his life up. Now a self-proclaimed evangelical born-again Christian, Strawberry moved to Missouri with his third wife, whom he married in October 2006. Together, they founded "The Darryl Strawberry Foundation", dedicated to helping children with autism. 


1988 Topps 1987 All Star

Strawberry reunited with the New York Mets in that time, working as an instructor for the team in 2005 and 2008. He also appeared on the televised New York Mets games for SNY, between 2007 and 2009. 


1997 Ultra

He even made regular appearances at the New York Yankees' Old Timer's Day, during that period. 


1991 Stadium Club

In August 2010, he opened his own restaurant, Strawberry's Sports Grill, in Douglaston, Queens. His restaurant had a two year run, before closing in October 2012. 


But nothing would top the inevitable chaos that would ensue when Robert Smith dropped by to place a delivery order from Frank the Pizza King. Robert Smith would throw an autistic child-like tantrum over Robert Smith showing up to scare him. Robert Smith wouldn't understand why Robert Smith was freaking out. Then Robert Smith would try to get on Robert Smith's good side, but Robert Smith wasn't interested in making peace with Robert Smith. Finally Robert Smith got so upset with Robert Smith that Robert Smith left Robert Smith and moved to New Mexico.

But only one thing matters here...


Frank the Pizza King.

The place you get your pizza from, when you both work for the Englewood Pizza Hut. 


1992 Fleer Team Leaders

Darryl Strawberry's memoir, Straw: Finding My Way, co-written with author John Strausbaugh, was published in April 2009. I've not read it. And this card is very green.


1992 Topps

The New York Mets inducted Strawberry into their team Hall of Fame, in 2010. But this is a Dodgers card. With a really cool picture... Taken at Shea Stadium! See! It works!


Robert Smith would often make me late in getting wherever I wanted to go, because of all the extra time he'd take getting ready. He was an incredibly high maintenance roommate, hogging the mirror to tease his hair just right, copious amounts of the right white pancake base that would get into my hair and toothbrush. Because I later found out he was applying his makeup with it...


1989 Classic - Darryl Strawberry & Will Clark

Krause Publications (publisher of Baseball Cards Magazine and Sports Collectors Digest) awarded the Darryl Strawberry and Will Clark All Star Card, from 1989 Classic Orange, as the 1989 Card of the Year. Maybe it was voted on by readers, I can't remember. Either way, I call bullshit. I can think of an easy 25 cards from 1989, that I would rank ahead of this one. And if you polled collectors today, I doubt that any of them wouldn't pick the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card. Arguably the most famous card of the Junk Wax Era. 

But sure... Classic Orange Strawberry/Clark...


1988 Topps

Darryl Strawberry previously described himself as having struggled with sex addiction. After retiring from baseball, he admitted to having sex between innings of Major League Baseball games that he was playing in. I'm not going to dispute that claim, but with the between inning breaks only lasting 2 minutes, I wonder how plausible that could have even been...

Guess if he batted the previous inning...

And was certain his teammates weren't going to rally...

Maybe that's why he was so pissed off at Wally Backman?


1991 Score Traded

Strawberry's second book, Don't Give Up on Me, was published in 2017. This book covers his addiction and recovery.


Robert Smith was everywhere. I couldn't escape him. Even when I stepped outside the apartment to smoke, I'd find him laying in the courtyard staring up at me. Which was really strange since he was just inside the apartment when I walked out.

Was I losing my mind or was Robert Smith actually 5 or 6 different Robert Smith's, sent to destroy me? 

This was like that Single White Female movie.

Only if it was really stupid.


1989 Topps K-Mart

Seeing cards like this make me nostalgic for the Junk Wax Era retail boxed sets. I would still like to encounter a nice and cheap collection of the old Woolworth, Kay Bee Toys, Ames, Toys R Us and any of the others from 1986-1990. Two of each, so one could be raided for singles and the other kept complete.


Perhaps this card was once sold at this abandoned KMart in Rochester, MN?

Once known as the first KMart to open in the state of Minnesota, in 1971.

This store closed permanently in March, 2019.


******

Act One - Scene Six

******

A darkened stage, single spotlight illuminating a restaurant booth. Occasional flickers suggest the presence of arcade games nearby, and children’s laughter is heard quietly in the background.. Honkass enters first, stage left, to find his pizza already at the table. Robert then enters stage left, arms overflowing with stuffed animals, paddle balls, Chinese finger cuffs and glow sticks.

Robert: Look, my Honkass! Look at my wonderful prizes... (Twirling around with joy)

Honkass: Look, my Robert, stop calling me “my Honkass.” Now put your fucking stuffed monkey down and eat some goddamn pizza before I tear the arms off that animated mouse and beat you into a coma with them. (Robert abruptly drops his prizes and curls up into a ball under the table.)

Honkass: Oh stop it Bob. Just hurry up and stuff this shit into your lip-sticky pie hole so I can give you your key and get some sleep. 

(We see the ratty hair, plastic balls still attached, slowly appear from under the table. Robert eats a slice in silence.)

Robert: Oh my Honkass, I thought the prizes... If you’re angry... so sorry... maybe just one more glorious dip in the ball crawl...

Honkass: I don’t care how long you stay here after I give you this. (Honkass reaches into an inside coat pocket and casually tosses a silver key on the tabletop) Now I’ve got to get some sleep, so I’d appreciate it if you could wait to move in until after I leave for work. If you’re still awake when I get home, I’d like to have a little chat...

Robert: A chat? oh dear God.... Just kick me out now... was it the prizes? Oh, my Honkass... my dear, dear Honkass... (staring mournfully at the floor)

Honkass: No Bob, it wasn’t the prizes, or your insistence on referring to me as “My Honkass” or your total inability to stop crying. The simple fact is I’m fucking exhausted and the Expos lost last night. So go play with your balls, stick your dick in the Skill Crane, or mash your mopey testicles with the Whack-A-Mole mallet. I’m going home. See you tomorrow. 

Honkass tosses some bills on the table and get’s up to leave. Robert follows. As they pass the ball crawl, Robert stops abruptly and mumbles an incoherent farewell. 


As Honkass disappears offstage, Robert again screams “Yeaaaayyy!!! Balls!!!” The stage goes dark to the sounds of Robert playing in the Ball Crawl.

To be continued in WQ52.

Next: Act 2: House Rules...

Then: Act 3: A Visit to Minnesota


The Cure - Forever - Toronto 2004

******


2019 Topps Silver Pack

These days, players like Darryl Strawberry are part of a pool that Topps and Panini choose from to feature as a legend in newer sets. Now that I have close to 35 years of collecting under my belt, I appreciate seeing these legends appearing alongside today's stars and rookies, in some of the nicer sets out today. 


2021 Topps Tribute Purple

Last year, there was a healthy looking group break at the LCS. I drew the Padres and Mets. Lotsa nice Tatis Jr.'s arrived that way, along with this Strawberry (and a nicer, lower numbered Mike Piazza) to represent the Mets half.


2019 Topps Museum Collection Autograph

Bought my first Strawberry autograph from that same LCS, several years earlier. I was so excited for this $20 pickup, that I briefly tried to explain Darryl Strawberry's significance, and why I needed it in my collection. I stopped short of beginning the Robert Pays Rent bit, because I already lost the guy. (Figured that out after the first polite nod I got back.) 

Maybe it'll get over here?

Probably not...

But at least with the internet, I don't have to see all of the polite nods!

To his credit, Darryl Strawberry did clean up his act after about 17 devastating screwups, and seems to be doing well for himself these days.


I briefly saw his appearance on MLB Network, on May 3, 2022, but I was too distracted to remember anything from it.

Well, I wish you well Mr. Strawberry!



No! No Robert! That belongs to Darryl! No!

******

I doubt any of you have made it this far, but if you're still with me, check this out:


Dead Milkmen - Bitchin' Camero - Minneapolis - June 2013

It's our good friends, the Dead Milkmen, doing Bitchin' Camero, from First Ave. in Minneapolis, on June 7th, 2013. During the buildup to the song itself, Rodney tells a great story about the kind of guy Robert Smith really is.

And I guess he's not like the Good Doktor and I envisioned at all...

"I hope I don't kill him!"










Comments

Someone else liked these...

Gates Rubber Company - Demolition Diary part 9

What Happened to Clark's Submarine Sandwich?

1994 Ultra Beavis and Butthead Top Whatever

Abandoned Mall: Villa Italia Mall - Lakewood, CO

Dinner Break! Lenny's Sub Shop - Englewood, CO

Abandoned Retail - Brookdale Mall, Sears & Perkins!

2022 Baseball Top Whatever

Ghosts of Riverdale Past - Coon Rapids, MN

Burning Down the Rockies Inn - Denver, Colorado

Dinner Break!!! Hardee's - Anoka, MN