Darryl Strawberry eager to thank Mets fans, apologize for leaving at upcoming number retirement

The Mets will honor another one of their long-time legends later this season when they retire Darryl Strawberry’s No. 18 into the Citi Field rafters. 

After being selected by New York with the first overall pick in the 1980 MLB Draft, Strawberry spent the first eight years of his career donning the orange and blue. 

The outfielder took the league by storm by winning the National League Rookie of the Year, a pair of Silver Sluggers, and being named to the All-Star team seven times over that span.

But after hitting 37 homers and driving in 108 RBI during the 1990 season, Strawberry elected to sign with his hometown Dodgers on a five-year deal in free agency, leaving New York for good on bad terms.

That’s exactly why the 62-year-old is looking forward to the opportunity to apologize and thank Mets fans one last time at his number retirement ceremony prior to the Mets’ June 1 game against the Diamondbacks. 

“I’m looking forward to really being able to say thank you to the fans and to tell the fans I’m sorry for leaving,” he said Monday at Busch Stadium.

“I wish I would’ve never left, New York will always be home for me, I will always be a Met. It was never about the fans or not playing there. It was more about the front office and not having a relationship and I just had to move on. If there is one regret I have in life it was leaving the fans because there is nothing like a curtain call at Shea Stadium.”

While the day will certainly be all about him and his amazing career in New York, Strawberry is also looking forward to the opportunity to recognize the important people who helped him along the way.

"The day isn't just about me," he said. "A lot of the time people get their number retired or they go into the Hall of Fame and all of the focus is on them, but you never focus on the people that helped you get there and I want to focus on the people that helped me get there."

The Los Angeles native, who was on hand at Citi Field for Doc Gooden's number retirement ceremony, says he's in good health after suffering a heart attack last month.

"It's been a scary time, there's no doubt about it," he said. "It's been very hard and very challenging, but things are going well. I have one test next week that I'm looking forward to to get to the place of feeling better and hopefully to move forward with everything I'm doing in life."