Dwight Gooden

From Academic Kids

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.

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 won 17 games while losing 9, led the league in strikeouts, struck out all three batters he faced in the All-Star Game that summer, 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 the league in wins, strikeouts, ERA, complete games, and innings pitched. 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.

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.

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.

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

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 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 containeer in his vehicle, and driving with a suspended license. He was arrested again in January 2003 for driving with a suspended license.

Gooden's nephew, Gary Sheffield, was recently signed to play for the Yankees prior to the 2004 season. Dwight acted as the go between man during the negotiations.

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


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