Former New York Mets’ pitcher and all-around phenom Dwight Gooden was recently inducted into the Mets‘ Hall of Fame. Earlier this year he was also arrested by Franklin Lakes Township police in New Jersey for driving under the influence with his 5-year-old son in the car, among other charges and is awaiting his day in court.

When Gooden was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame, also sitting by him was fellow inductee and partner-in-turmoil, Darryl Strawberry. The two will be forever entwined because of their meteoric rise to fame and equally meteoric fall from grace. Through the years, it seemed that Gooden would be the one who would clean up his act and Strawberry would be the one who never would get it.

Compared to Gooden, Strawberry seemed like a monster. There were spousal abuse accusations and non-stop cocaine use among the litter of strikes against Strawberry, while Gooden’s demons where purely drug-related and seemed fixable. Today Strawberry serves as a citizen who seems to have truly cleaned himself up while Gooden just can’t seem to wake the *&%# up.

I grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey and was 11 years old when Dwight Gooden won the rookie of the year in 1984. From that point, Gooden was my biggest hero. To this day I still believe that his 1985 Cy Young season was the single greatest year a pitcher has had in the modern era. At the most impressionable age a boy could have, Dwight Gooden was the greatest thing imaginable.


My friends and I would cut school to watch him pitch, and it seemed between 1984 and 1988, he might have become one of the greatest pitchers of all time. His rising fastball was electric and nearly unhittable. His curveball, nicknamed Lord Charles because calling it Uncle Charlie like a normal curveball was too pedestrian a name for a ball that came in at 12 on the clock and dropped off the table at 6. His moniker, Doctor K, was a tribute to his strikeout prowess.

Alas, no one as hyped and dominant as Gooden can ever live up to the kind of pressure and temptation that arises as a teenager who owned New York (see:Tiger Woods). When Gooden was thriving and at the top of the world, there weren’t too many other people to get good advice from to steer him from the ills of young fame and fortune (especially not on those Mets teams). Drug rehab and arrests derailed Doc’s surefire Hall of Fame career.

Dwight Gooden broke my heart as a youth and went on to continually break my heart as an adult. He taught me that you can’t put a person on a pedestal just because he’s a good athlete, or because he’s on ESPN. He taught me at too young an age that fame is fleeting and that boyhood idols were fallible.

I also learned that a person needs to own up to his mistakes and learn from them. Dwight Gooden has never learned, and still, after all this time and these many chances, it is still heartbreaking to see someone who was at the top of the world fail so magnificently and so publicly time after time after time.


People outside of the world of drugs don’t understand what it’s like for addicts, and addicts don’t ever know how bad off they are. Through love and understanding many people overcome their addictions and demons, Dwight has not. At some point it takes personal accountability, a quality Gooden does not seem to possess.

Gooden will keep failing until he actually learns that there is a price to pay society for being so loved and being given so many chances. I don’t know what it’s like to be in his shoes, and I think that we put way to many people in jail for drugs when they could be served better through other methods, but Dwight Gooden needs to learn how to be a member of society, and not a member of the got off easy again club. I don’t know what that equates to in years or punishment, but I’m done with Dwight Gooden.

If you care, Doc, there is also a price for breaking the heart of an innocent 11 year-old-boy who idolized you. You lost your biggest fan. For once, do me a favor and win me back. We both need it, and you owe me.

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