TAMPA, Fla. – It took six strikes, but a Florida judge finally called Darryl Strawberry out on Monday, ordering the onetime baseball superstar to serve 18 months in prison for violating the terms of his probation.
Retired Judge Ralph Steinberg sentenced the 40-year-old ex-slugger to go to jail for his 1999 arrest on drug and solicitation of prostitution charges.
Strawberry had fought previous attempts by the state to send him to prison and was sent to drug treatment instead, but he violated his probation six times.
The latest violation involved breaking the rules of the drug treatment center by smoking cigarettes, having sex with a resident, trading baseballs for cigarettes, signing autographs and verbally abusing his counselors.
Strawberry accepted accepted the sentence calmly, saying, "My life is going in the right direction."
"I would just like to get this behind me. I would like to do my 18 months and move on. I don't want to have this over my head."
Strawberry's lawyer, Darryl Rouson, said the ex-slugger has been drug-free for more than a year and noted that his recent problems do not involve drug use.
Strawberry had fought previous attempts to send him to prison, arguing he needed specialized medical care to fight his colon cancer, as well as treatment for mental health problems and drug addiction.
Again on Monday, his attorney suggested another treatment center, but the judge who previously presided over the ballplayer's case and repeatedly chose treatment for Strawberry was on medical leave. And Steinberg was firmly decided on prison.
"I hope you are sincere, for the sake of your friends and relatives and the community at large," the judge told Strawberry.
Rouson said Strawberry is cancer free, and will serve less than 13 months.
The eight-time All Star was on World Series championship teams with the New York Mets in 1986 and the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1999.
Ron Dock, a counselor with the New York Yankee system, said Strawberry's acceptance of his sentence is a sign of change.
"He's at peace," Dock said. "I am very proud of that man. He's not that little boy from a few months ago. He's a man today."
Strawberry is no longer talking of returning to baseball, Dock said.
Strawberry's wife, Charisse, was in the courtroom but had no comment after the sentencing. Rouson said she continues to support her husband despite his infidelity. The couple have three young children.
"If he wants to get this behind him, we think it's wonderful," prosecutor Darrell Dirks said. "We are taking Mr. Strawberry at his word."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.