Former star baseball player Darryl Strawberry, who has since become an outspoken Evangelical Christian, spoke on a panel at an exclusive Jewish, pro-Israel conference in New York on Thursday.
The “Extending the Branches of Zionism” conference, hosted by the Jewish National Fund-USA, focused on promoting non-Jewish support for the state of Israel.
Strawberry, a dynamic personality both in sports and philanthropy shared his remarkable story of redemption during the panel discussion, which was moderated by Rabbi Avi Rosalimsky. He was joined by members of the Caravan for Democracy and faculty fellowship alumni who spoke about their programs' positive impact on raising support for Israel in non-Jewish communities.
As a first-round draft pick in 1980, Strawberry led a successful career as right fielder for the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees.
Strawberry is Hall of Famer, having played baseball for a total of 17 seasons. In addition, is an eight-time All-Star and a three-time World Series champion.
However, the career of “The Legendary Strawman” as he was dubbed, was eventually marred by his multiple suspensions for illicit drug use.
After experiencing several bouts of colon cancer, being checked into various drug rehabilitation centers and going to jail for 11 months, Strawberry says he eventually turned to God, becoming an Evangelical Christian.
“I was once very lost and tormented, but now I am found and free in Christ Jesus,” Strawberry says on his website. “I want everyone to experience the saving and transforming power of Jesus Christ.”
Strawberry now spends much of his time traveling across America, sharing his story of redemption, as well as “speaking and bringing a message of hope and restoration in Christ.”
While largely uninformed about Israel most of his life, Strawberry says his love for the Jewish state was born out of his time studying the Bible and being discipled. In 2018, that love prompted him to make his first visit to Israel.
During an interview with the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Strawberry shared his views on the importance of teaching Americans about Israel.
“I think the most important thing is, as a non-Jewish person, you have to be able to educate them about Israel,” Strawberry said. “I think in this country, a lot of people talk about Israel and talk about the Jewish people, but they’ve never been there. So they don’t even have a clue.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.