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On This Date in Sports July 28, 1996: Darryl 300

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Playing with the New York Yankees, Darryl Strawberry hits his 300th home run. It is Strawberry's first home run of the season; he joined the Yankees a few weeks earlier after playing with the Independent St. Paul Saints. Strawberry had gone through tumultuous up and downs in his life, as he had been suspended in 1995 for using cocaine. The home run is a two-run walk-off home run, giving the Yankees a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals. Darryl Strawberry would hit 11 homers for the Yankees, helping them win their first World Series in 18 years.

Darryl Strawberry was born in Los Angeles on March 12, 1962. He had a rough life as a child, living with an abusive alcoholic father. Playing at Crenshaw High School in LA, Strawberry caught the eye of all scouts and was labeled a can't-miss prospect who was compared to Ted Williams. In 1980, Darryl Strawberry was the first overall pick in the MLB Draft by the New York Mets. The Mets, a team that had been suffering through some lean years, began touting Strawberry as the foundation of their future. 

In 1983, Darryl Strawberry made his debut with the Mets and did not disappoint, winning the National League Rookie of the Year while batting .257 with 26 home runs and 74 RBI. A year later, Strawberry made his first of eight consecutive All-Star Game appearances as the Mets became contenders in the National League East. The Mets won the World Series two years later, with Darryl Strawberry playing a critical role. 

Darryl Strawberry had his finest season in 1988, finishing second in MVP voting. He led the National League with 39 home runs while collecting 101 RBI and batting .269 as the Mets won the Eastern Division. However, the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, as the relationship with the Mets front office became strained. In 1989, Darryl Strawberry fought Keith Hernandez as the Mets gathered for a team picture at Spring Training. Off the field, Darryl's life was also unraveling as he began using drugs and alcohol and repeating the patterns of his father. 

Following the 1990 season, Darryl Strawberry left the Mets, signing a five-year contract worth $22.25 million with the Dodgers. Strawberry's first season in Los Angeles was solid, as he hit 28 home runs with 99 RBI. After 1991, Darryl Strawberry had 280 home runs in his first eight seasons as he seemed to be on track for a Hall of Fame career. However, over the next two seasons, injuries led to Strawberry's numbers rapidly decreasing, as his off-field troubles became known. 

In 1994, Darryl Strawberry was released by the Dodgers after failing to show up to an exhibition game. He was picked up by the San Francisco Giants, where he continued to struggle. After failing a drug test, Strawberry was suspended for the start of the 1995 season and cut by the Giants. After his suspension ended, Darryl Strawberry was picked up by the Yankees, where he had his best numbers in four years. Despite the positive signs, Strawberry was unsigned in 1996 and began the year playing Independent Baseball with the St. Paul Saints. After showing a return of his power in St. Paul, the Yankees signed Darryl Strawberry for the stretch run in 1996. He had two home runs in a doubleheader sweep of the Orioles and sat one home run away from 300. 

The Yankees were playing the Kansas City Royals on a Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. Dwight Gooden made the start for the Yankees and allowed two runs on seven hits in eighth innings, while Kevin Appier held the Yankees to one run on four hits in eight innings. John Wetteland pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth as Jason Jacome came on for the save for Kansas City. Jacome walked Tino Martinez to start the inning, as Darryl Strawberry, who was 1-for-3 in the game, came to the plate and won the game 3-2 with a walk-off home run. 

Darryl Strawberry would hit 11 home runs in 1996, as the Yankees won the World Series. Strawberry played his final four seasons with the Yankees, earning three World Series rings, before colon cancer and a relapse ended his career in 1999. Darryl Strawberry ended his career with 335 home runs.