By Jerry Del Priore
With the 2017 MLB amateur draft taking place on Thursday, June 12, I thought I take a look back at the first-round of the 1980 draft for the New York Mets.
That year, New York, who owns the 20th overall selection this season, had three first round picks, including the number one overall, which turned out to be Darryl Strawberry. Three years later, he earned Rookie of the Year honors.
New York baseball fans don’t have to be reminded what a polarizing figure Strawberry was, winning a World Series in 1986 with the Mets before jettisoning to his hometown of Los Angeles, California in 1991 to play for the Dodgers.
The six-foot-six-inch slugger, with the memorable looping swing, fell victim to drug use in the middle of his career. But he bounced back to respectability with the New York Yankees, capturing championships in 1996 and 1998.
Strawberry wound up smashing 335 career homeruns as well as 1000 RBI.
I’ll always remember Strawberry’s amazing moonshots at Shea Stadium and for carry the Mets on his shoulders for long stretches at a time. He was my hero as adolescent, make no mistake about it.
New York’s two other first-round picks were Billy Beane (23rd) and John Gibbons (24th), both of whom played for the Mets; Beane from 1984-’85, and Gibbons in ’84 and ’86.
Ironically, both former Mets had better post-playing careers. Beane, the subject of the book and movie Moneyball, has been the General Manager of the Oakland A’s since after the 1997 season.
In addition, Beane, considered by many baseball people to be one of the top front office executives in the sports’ history, is a minority owner of the A’s.
Gibbons is the current manager of the Toronto Blue Jays and has posted a 671-624 career mark thus far while guided the Blue Jays to an Eastern Division title in 2015.