Sep 6, 2016

Remembering Mets History: (1984) Dwight Gooden Pitches One Hitter In Heat of the Pennant Race

Friday September 7th, 1984: Shea Stadium was at one of it's highest points it had been in years. The excitement of the Davey Johnson's Mets was even more elcetric when young phenom; Dwight Gooden was on the mound. Gooden was lighting up Shea with the K Korner in the upper deck & the wave cheer flowing through the rafters. 

On this night it was one of the most exciting games of the year as the second place Mets (79-62) were in the heat of a pennant race, 6 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs (85-56). Tonight Doctor K (14-8) went up against the Cubs Dick Ruthven (5-9).

Centerfieldmaz attended this wild game, complete with a "Kill Kubs" banner featuring a Heavy Metal style dude swirling an axe at a little bear. Oh yea, it was a rocking night in the Upper Deck. If memory serves me right, I remember a contingent of Cubs fan in the area, that had special security guards close by to watch over them. Things were rowdy in those upper deck eighties days if you were rooting for a hated rival team.

Young Dwight Gooden was spectacular, he struck out two Cubs in each of the first three innings, as the crowd went wild. 

In the 1st inning, Wally Backman tripled & Mookie Wilson hit a sac fly to make it 1-0. The Mets got to Ruthven in the 3rd, Mike Fitzgerald singled, Gooden bunted him over & Wally Backman drew a walk. Mookie Wilson then doubled in two runs. Mookie would add an RBI single in the 4th as well.  

With two outs, Darryl Stawberry was walked intentionally. George Foster then delivered, with a three run blast, his 20th of the year, bringing the Shea Faithful to a frenzy. It was now 6-0 Mets & the wave was rolling through the stands.

Dwight Gooden was shutting down the Cubs, and all of a sudden had a no hitter going, adding even more excitement to the night. But in the 5th inning, Keith Moreland hit a little ground ball to third base. 

Ray Knight expains what happened: ''I was playing back and off the line. Nobody had been pulling Doc, and Moreland goes the other way and he doesn't run well. I came in at such a sharp angle, I had to catch the ball and throw it all at once. But I never got the ball out of my hand. My momentum was carrying me toward their dugout and there was no way I could throw the ball. I didn't even realize that was their first hit. I was concentrating so hard.''

At the time it seemed meaningless until the game rolled on. In the 6th, he got Don Rohn to foul out, then Bob Denier flied out & Ryne Sandberg grounded out to second base. In the 7th, Gooden walked Gary Mathews to start out the inning. He then got Leon Durham & Keith Moreland to fly out, he then struck out pinch hitter; Thad Bosley to end the inning. The crowd erupted & the "K korner" added another K.

In the Mets 7th, Keith Hernandez had an RBI single & Darryl Strawberry a two run HR, his 21st of the year. It was a 10-0 Mets lead.

In the 8th, Gooden gets Ron Hassey & Rod Denier to fly out & strikes out Rohn to keep the one hitter in tact. In the 9th, Davey Lopes walked, but Gooden struck out Henry Cotto, got Leon Durham to pop out & Tom Veryzer to ground out to end the game. The crowd went crazy, as the legacy of Doc Gooden continued to grow. 

Gooden earned his 15th win, sixth straight, as he struck out eleven, allowing just one hit & four walks in the shut out. It was the 14th One Hitter in Mets history & the second in the eighties.

Gooden's 11 strikeouts raised his league-leading total to 235, breaking Grover Cleveland Alexander's National League record for strikeouts by a rookie (227). On this night he also tied two club records held by Tom Seaver - 13 games with ten or more strikeouts and three consecutively.

Quotes: Dwight Gooden:  ''I'm not disappointed, the hit doesn't matter. I just wanted to win the game. ''This was not just another game, This was a big game for us to get our confidence going. Tonight was one of my better games; I felt great going into the game and I felt strong at the end.''

Gooden even got two hits in the game, more than the entire Cubs line up.

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