Darryl Strawberry, left, and Dwight Gooden look on in the...

Darryl Strawberry, left, and Dwight Gooden look on in the press conference room before a game between the Mets and the Royals at Citi Field on April 14. Credit: Jim McIsaac

ST. LOUIS — When Darryl Strawberry’s big day arrives — June 1, when the Mets retire his No. 18 — he will have a particularly important mission: He wants to apologize to fans.

“I’m looking forward to that day. I’m looking forward to really being able to say thank you to the fans, tell the fans I’m sorry for leaving,” said Strawberry, who spent eight seasons with the Mets and signed with the Dodgers almost immediately upon becoming a free agent after the 1990 season. “I wish I would’ve never left. It was one of those decisions I made. Didn’t have a relationship with the front office. New York is home for me. I’ll always be a Met. The blue and orange is always going to be me.

“And I had fun. I had fun playing there. [Leaving the Mets] was never about the fans, it was never about not playing there. It was more about the front office and the relationship, not having a relationship. I had to move on.

“There’s only one regret I have in my life: leaving the fans. Because there’s nothing like a curtain call at Shea Stadium.”

Strawberry’s comments came Monday at the field at Busch Stadium, where he was visiting the modern Mets during batting practice before their series opener against the Cardinals. He lives in the area, so he made the trip to the ballpark, and Pete Alonso was the first player to come over for a hug and hello.

About two months removed from a heart attack, Strawberry said he is feeling better and “I think I will” be back to normal or close to normal by the time the Mets honor him next month.

That episode changed his day-to-day life to an extreme extent — extra feelings of fatigue and weakness, extra medications — but the fact that he still has a day-to-day life is a win.


“I was close,” Strawberry said. “I was close to getting my wings and being on the other side of life. Real close.”

Strawberry was wearing a defibrillator, but he hopes to ditch it as soon as he gets clearance.

“I went to the doctor this past week. I asked him when can I get this defibrillator off and get this bra off?” he said. “Because now I understand what women [deal with], wearing a bra. I have to wear a bra. It’s very uncomfortable.”

He made an unexpected visit to Citi Field last month when the Mets retired Dwight Gooden’s No. 16, getting on a plane earlier than planned after his doctor “opened the door” to such travel earlier that week.

Being there for and with Gooden was important, Strawberry said.

“That was a special day,” he said. “I really didn’t want to miss that because of all that we’ve been through together and all that we accomplished together.”


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