Clinton aides had issues with 'Straw'

WASHINGTON -- Besides being focused on their budget wars with Republicans, President Bill Clinton's White House had its eye on how the New York Yankees were handling a newly signed outfielder, documents released Friday show.

In a June 1995 memo to Clinton, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel shed light on the administration's interest in the Yankees' treatment of slugger Darryl Strawberry, who had substance abuse problems during his baseball career.

The memo said that White House drug policy chief Lee Brown had arranged a meeting with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

"Our goal is to set down a series of demands at this meeting, such as: (1) Strawberry doing community service with young people, (2) the Yankee franchise setting up a franchise-wide standard, and (3) have the Yankees contribute to a drug program recommended by Director Brown," Emanuel wrote.

At the time, Steinbrenner had said he believed Strawberry was "worth saving." A few days earlier, Brown said publicly, "The Yankees have struck out by signing Darryl Strawberry" because it suggested to young people that drug-users could be rewarded with lucrative sports contracts.

The Yankees did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment, including whether they ever met any of the administration demands or if Steinbrenner's meeting with Brown took place.

Strawberry played for the Yankees until 1999 after starring for years with New York Mets and playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The eight-time all-star hit 335 career home runs.