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Dwight Gooden

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Dwight Gooden

A photo of Dwight Gooden.

Dwight Eugene Gooden (born November 16, 1964 in Tampa, Florida), a.k.a. Doc Gooden or Dr. K, an American baseball player, was one of the most feared pitchers in the National League in the middle and late 1980s. Gooden is the uncle of current slugger Gary Sheffield, who hit his 500th major league home run in 2009 (his first home run with New York Mets).


A native of Tampa, Florida, Gooden was drafted in the first round in 1982 and made his major-league debut on April 7, 1984 with the New York Mets at the age of 19 and quickly developed a reputation with his 97 MPH fastball and sweeping curveball. He was dubbed "Dr. K," (by analogy with basketball's "Dr. J", Julius Erving), which soon became shortened to "Doc". That season, Gooden won 17 games (the most by a 19-year-old since Wally Bunker won 19 for the Baltimore Orioles in 1964) while losing 9, led the league in strikeouts, struck out all three batters he faced in the All-Star Game, and won Rookie of The Year honors that fall. He was even more dominating in 1985, winning 24 games while losing only four and leading both leagues in wins, strikeouts (268) and ERA (1.53, the second lowest during the Live Ball Era behind only Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA in 1968) and the National League in complete games (16), and innings pitched(276 2/3). HiHiHiHi!! :) (:He became one of only 12 African-American pitchers to win 20 games and became the youngest-ever recipient of the Cy Young Award. He then compiled a 17-6 record in helping the Mets to a World Championship in 1986. He was the first pitcher ever to record a record of exactly 24-4 -- Roger Clemens then duplicated the record the following year (1986) for the Red Sox.

Rumors of substance abuse surrounded Gooden early in his career, and he tested positive for cocaine during spring training in 1987. He entered a rehabilitation center on April 1, 1987 to avoid being suspended and didn't make his first start of the season until June 5. Gooden still compiled a record of 15-7 in 1987, and led the league in won-lost percentage with .682 among pitchers with 15 or more wins (the standard qualifier).

After a shoulder injury in 1989 and another injury in 1991, his career declined significantly. Gooden was charged along with two other teammates with rape in 1991, and the charges were dropped the following year. In 1994 at age 29, he had a 3-4 record with a 6.31 ERA when he tested positive for cocaine use and was suspended for 60 days. He tested positive again while serving the suspension, and was suspended for the entire 1995 season. The day after receiving the second suspension, Gooden's wife, Monica, found him in his bedroom with a loaded gun to his head.

Gooden signed with the New York Yankees in 1996 as a free agent, reuniting him with former Mets teammate Darryl Strawberry, whose rapid rise followed by drug and legal problems paralleled Gooden's. After starting the season poorly and nearly getting released, Gooden pitched a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners on May 14 of that year and ended the season with an 11-7 record—his first winning record since 1991—but never regained his early form. It would be the last time he would win more than 9 games in a single season.

He pitched for three teams from 1998 to 2000 and was unconditionally released twice before signing a minor-league contract with the Yankees and returning to the Yankees at the end of the 2000 season.

Gooden retired in 2001 after he was cut by the Yankees in spring training, ending his career with a record of 194-112. More than half of those wins came before age 25. He took a job in the Yankees' front office. Gooden's nephew, Gary Sheffield, was signed to play for the Yankees prior to the 2004 season. Dwight acted as the go between man during the negotiations. Sheffield was traded to the Detroit Tigers after the 2006 season.

In 2006, his first year of eligibility, Gooden received less than 5% of the vote (he received 17 votes; the threshold was 26) from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, thus becoming ineligible to appear on future BBWAA ballots. However, he may eventually be considered for induction into the Hall by the Veterans Committee once 20 years have passed from his date of retirement (therefore, in the year 2021), in accordance with current Hall of Fame rules (enacted in 2001).

Legal troublesEdit

Gooden's legal problems did not end with his career. On February 20, 2002, Gooden was arrested in his native Tampa and charged with driving while intoxicated, having an open container in his vehicle, and driving with a suspended license. He was arrested again in January 2003 for driving with a suspended license.

On March 12, 2005, Gooden was arrested in Tampa, Florida for punching his girlfriend after she threw a telephone at his head. He was released two days later on a misdemeanor battery charge.

Troubles continued to mount for the former star when, on August 23, 2005, he drove away from a traffic stop in Tampa, after being pulled over for driving erratically. He gave the officer his driver's license, twice refused to leave his car, then drove away. The officer remarked in his report that Gooden's eyes were glassy and bloodshot, his speech was slurred, and a "strong" odor of alcohol was present on him. Three days after the traffic stop, Gooden turned himself in to police [1]. He may be sent to a maximum security rehabilitation facility when a bed becomes available. Coincidentally, his oldest son is currently in prison on a drug-related conviction.

In 1999, Gooden released an autobiography titled Heat, in which he discussed his struggles with alcohol and cocaine abuse.

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Darryl Strawberry
National League Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by:
Vince Coleman

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