Wednesday, October 23, 2013

His father died the same night he pitched his one and only no hitter game.  Dwight Gooden was one of baseballs greatest players but he will always be known for his career damaging cocaine addict ways. He was one of the most feared pitchers in baseball.  They called him Doc because he was always calm and precise under pressure.  I loved him growing up as him being the  idol for my young son as a boy.
In 1984 he started major league play with the New York Mets.  He was just 19 years old with his 98 mph. fast ball.  He had a great curve ball to and became an immediate success.  I lived 20 minutes from that stadium at the time, so we were practically neighbors.  He was named National Rookie of the Year in his first season in major league play.  He won the Cy Young Award given to the best pitcher in his second season.  He became the youngest starter pitcher in the All Star Game ever!

Doc Gooden was a star but while he was in perfect control on the field he was a drug addict mess off the field.  He even missed a victory parade in his honor once because he was doing cocaine somewhere instead and forgot all about his honor.  Being so young, so talented, finding fame and fortune, he needed to do so much drugs too?  Why?

This was a good guy who spoke well, had a good education , grew up in a solid middle class family with two supportive great parents who took great care of  him.  The minute he told his Dad at age ten that he wanted to be a baseball player, his Dad took him to the field every day and practiced with him and saw that his kid got into the best training to get him to the majors by age 19.

Gooden admits that success came too fast so he didn’t even appreciate it.  He thought that was the way it was supposed to be.  Cocaine came even easier into his life.  It was love at first sniff.  He did that stuff when things were good and when things were bad in life.  What the hell was bad in his life?  

Things were very good for Gooden and the Mets when they won the World Series in 1986.  In his new book called DOC he writes that he retreated to a Long Island druggie house to celebrate with some cocaine and watched his parade on TV while sitting in a place high with people he didn’t even know.
While baseball was his job, getting high was his vocation.  He was the youngest of six kids in his childhood.  He now has seven kids of his own.  He lives in a two room apartment instead of the twelve bedroom house he used to own and says he is clean and much happier in his own skin after he spent time on the TV show Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew two years ago which he claims helped him a lot to care more about himself.

His father’s health was bad as Dwight’s career took off.  His father was on dialysis for kidney failure for twelve years and saw most of his son’s games on TV from a hospital bed.  In 1996 after more than ten seasons with the Mets, Doc joined the Yankees where he threw his one and only no hitter game.  The night his Dad died during open heart surgery.  They said he knew his son threw the no hitter before he died.  Dwight ran to the hospital that same night and put that winning ball in his Dad’s limp hand anyway.

After  pitching for five major league teams, Dwight Gooden retired in 2001.  He is still a lucky man.  Most people would have died by now from the heavy addiction he had to cocaine.  At 48 years old, Dwight now lives a simple life in New Jersey not far from his children but very far from the roar of the crowd and that is just fine with Dwight Gooden.  

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