Cleat Geeks

Happy Birthday to “Doc” with 16 Facts

dg1We wish Dwight Gooden a happy 50th birthday. And as always with the articles we do on sports figures on their birthdays, we give the reader the number of facts that matches the number they wore on their jersey. So, let’s get started.

  1. Eugene is Dwight Gooden’s birth middle name, even though he was given tons of “middle names”.
  2. Dwight Gooden was drafted in the first round in 1982, the fifth player taken overall. He spent only one season in the minors, in which he led the Class-A Carolina League in wins, strikeouts and ERA while playing for the Lynchburg Mets.
  3. Gooden had 300 strikeouts in 191 innings, a performance which convinced the Triple-A Tidewater Tides manager to recommend him make the big jump to the big leagues. He was none other than future Met’s skipper Davey Johnson, who went on to manage many successful teams.
  4. Gooden made his major-league debut on April 7, 1984 with the New York Mets at the age of 19.
  5. He was dubbed “Dr. K”, by analogy with basketball’s “Dr. J”, Julius Erving, and also in reference to the letter “K” being the standard abbreviation for a strikeout.
  6. Gooden soon attracted a rooting section at Shea Stadium that called itself “The K Korner”, and would hang up cards with a red “K” after each of his strikeouts.
  7. When he took the mound in the fifth inning on July 10, 1984, Gooden became the youngest player to appear in an All-Star Game. He did so by striking out the side in AL batters: Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis.
  8. In his final three starts of the 1984 season, he had 41 strikeouts and 1 walk.dg2
  9. Leading Major League Baseball with 24 wins, 268 strikeouts, and a 1.53 ERA (the second lowest in the Live Ball Era, trailing only Bob Gibson’s 1.12 in 1968) Gooden earned the major leagues’ pitching Triple Crown.
  10. In another All-Star record pertaining to youth, in 1986 Gooden became the youngest pitcher to start an All-Star Game at 21 years, seven months and 30 days of age.
  11. In an early red flag, after winning the 1986 World Championship, Gooden no-showed the team victory parade.
  12. Gooden was arrested on December 13, 1986, in Tampa, Florida after fighting with police. A report clearing police of misconduct in the arrest helped start the Tampa riots of 1987.
  13. Rumors of substance abuse began to arise, which were confirmed when Gooden tested positive for cocaine during spring training in 1987. He entered a rehabilitation center on April 1, 1987, to avoid being suspended and did not make his first start of the season until June 5. Despite missing a third of the season, Gooden won 15 games for the 1987 Mets.
  14. In the first game of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Game 4, Gooden entered the ninth inning with a 4–2 lead and the chance to give his Mets a commanding 3–1 advantage in the series. But he allowed a game-tying home run to Mike Scioscia, and the Dodgers eventually went on to win the game in 12 innings, and the series as well, 4 games to 3.
  15. 1992 was Gooden’s first-ever losing season (10-13); it was also the first time he had lost as many as 10 decisions. 1993 was no improvement, as Gooden finished 12–15. During the 1993 season. During the lockout-shortened 1994 season at age 29, Gooden 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 further 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.
  16. Though drug abuse is commonly blamed for Gooden’s pitching troubles, some analysts point to his early workload. It has been estimated that Gooden threw over 10,800 pitches from 1983 to 1985, a period in which he was just 18 to 20 years old.

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