Dwight Gooden- Part One: "The Doctor K " & The Championship" (1984 - 1986)

Dwight Eugene Gooden was born November 16, 1964 in Tampa, Florida. He was a star athlete at Hillsboro high school in Tampa, & the scouts came looking for him. 

He was drafted in the first round of the 1982 draft by the New York Mets, the fifth player taken overall.

He spent just two seasons in the minors, first going 5-5 in the Rookie League & A ball in 1982. In 1983 he led the Carolina League in wins (19, going 19-4) ERA (2.50) & an incredible 300 strike outs in 191 innings pitched. 

He was named the Baseball Americas Minor League Player of the Year & his performance convinced manager Davey Johnson that he was ready for the majors. 

1984 Rookie Season: Dwight Gooden made his MLB debut on April 7, 1984, in Houston, in the Mets fourth game of the season. 

Gooden was just nineteen years of age; in his debut he pitched five innings allowing one run on three hits, striking out five while earning his first career victory.

On April 13th, he lost his second start allowing six runs in just three innings to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. 

In his next two starts it became noticeable how many batters he was striking out.

On April 19th, he made his Shea Stadium debut facing the Montreal Expos. The first bater he faced was Pete Rose who grounded out. Doc struck out seven Expos over five innings but allowed four runs earning no decision in the 7-6 Mets win. 

In his next start a Montreal, he went seven innings striking out ten batters for the first time. Although he only allowed one run, he earned another no decision as David Palmer shut out the Mets thru seven in the 2-1 Met loss. 

On May 1st, he struck ten batters for the second straight game, beating the first place Cubs while allowing just one run.

On May 6th he had his worst game of the year, giving up eight runs on six hits, striking out just four in a loss to Houston. On May 11th Doc pitched his first complete game, it was a four-hit shutout performance in Los Angeles striking out eleven Dodgers.

By this time the league was noticing the youngster with the blazing 98 mph. rising fastball & a curve ball so good it was dubbed "Lord Charles' by Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner.




On June 6th in Pittsburgh, Gooden pitched nine innings allowing just one run on two hits, but earned another no decision although the Mets won it in the top of the 13th when Wally Backman scored on a wild pitch.

Player of the Week Award: In the beginning of July, he won the Player of the Week award, when he earned a pair of victories, allowing just two runs & six hits over 16 innings of work. 

On July 2nd at Shea Stadium, he allowed two runs on eight hits & struck out a season high (up to that point) twelve Astros for a 4-2 win. On July 7th although he scattered ten hits giving up two runs, the Mets put up 14 for a 14-2 win giving Doc his eighth victory.

At the All-Star break Doc was 8-5 with a 3.00 ERA & had already had six outings where he had struck out ten or more batters.

1984 All Star Game: Gooden became the youngest pitcher named to an All-Star team that season. On July 10th, he showed the American League as well as a national audience just how good he was. In the top of the 5th inning, with the NL leading 2-1at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Gooden took the mound with his battery mate Montreal's Gary Carter. The Doctor struck out the AL's Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon & Alvin Davis exiting to a huge ovation. Gary Carter congratulated him saying wouldn't this be nice to do together all the time.


The Doctor is In: Gooden became known as "Dr. K" & when he pitched at Shea Stadium, he was the number one gate attraction. As the Mets became contenders, taking over first place that summer the crowds came back & when Gooden pitched, it was the hottest ticket in town.

There was always something magical in the air the night Gooden pitched. He was a rookie phenom sensation, the next best thing that had happened to the club since the days of Tom Terrific. Fans held up K cards in honor of each of his strikeouts, and a section in the Shea stands was labeled The K Korner.

In his first start after the All-Star game, he gave up five runs to the Braves & took a loss in Atlanta. His next start was in Cincinnati, he allowed just one earned run, but a Mets error led to a 2-2 tie when he exited after nine innings. The Mets won it in the 11th on a Keith Hernandez sac fly.

On July 27th, Gooden went at with the second place Cubs, battling Dick Ruthven in a 2-1 Mets win, where he fanned eight. The win put New York 4.5 games ahead of Chicago.

From August 11th to mid-September, he had a stretch where he went 7-0 winning, eight of his last nine starts. During that time, he won another Player of the Week Award, September's Pitcher of the Month Award & threw a one hitter. In the final two months of the season Doctor K tossed three shut outs & five complete games. He struck out ten or more batters in a game seven times, including five straight games.

The Mets had two terrible seven game losing streaks & lost seven games to the Cubs in that time putting them in second place 4.5 games back. After two poor starts at the beginning of August, Gooden was on fire. 

On August 11th, Doctor K struck out ten Pirates, shutting them out for seven innings to earn his tenth victory. On August 17th in San Francisco, he struck out 12, pitching a 2-0 shut out over Mike Krukow & the Giants. Next in San Diego he struck out nine & beat the Padres 5-2 for his 12th win. On August 27th, he returned to the Shea Stadium mound & beat the Dodgers 5-1, matching his season high 12 strike outs up to that point.

September Pitcher of the Month & Weekly Awards:
One Hitter: On September 7th in a divisional matchup with the first place Cubs, he may have thrown his best game of the season. In a classic game that centerfieldmaz attended with 46,301 crazed fans at Shea, Gooden struck out ten Cubs & shut out the Cubs 10-0. 

The only hit he allowed on the night, was a controversial play at third base on a play by Ray Knight which very well could have been charged as an error. Gooden struck out two batters in each of the first three innings, recording a K in all but the 6th inning. He even collected two hits on the night. 

The offense was led by HRs from Darryl Strawberry & George Foster, as well as a three RBI night from Mookie Wilson. Keith Hernandez added an RBI as well.


Season Rookie Strike Out Record: A week later although the Mets had faded from the pennant race, Gooden took the hill at Shea Stadium once again having a record setting evening. In another game centerfieldmaz attended, the Shea Faithful & I witnessed an incredible night of rising fastballs as he struck out a season high 16 Pirates, setting a record for most strike outs by a Rookie pitcher breaking Bob Feller's mark. The Mets went on to a 2-0 win as he tossed a five hit shut out.

Gooden struck out six batters in a row from the 4th into the 6tth inning, fanning the side in the 5th. He did not record a K in the 1st or last inning but would strike out at least two batters in every other inning along the way.



Over three starts in September he also set the record for most strikeouts in three consecutive starts (43). 

In his next start he struck out 16 batters for the second straight game, gave up just two runs but took a 2-1 loss the Shane Rawley & the Phillies. In his final start of the season, Gooden allowed just one run in eight innings to the Expos & won his 17th game of the year, striking out none.

In his 1984 season Gooden won the NL Rookie of the Year Award, following teammate Daryl Strawberry who had won the Award the previous year. He was the third Mets pitcher in club history to win the award, joining Tom Seaver (1967) and Jon Matlack (1972). 

He led the league in strikeouts (276), he led the Mets in wins (17) which were the most by a Met rookie pitcher since Jerry Koosman’s nineteen in 1968. Doc also led the club in ERA (2.60) which was second best in the NL. He also led the club in innings pitched (218) complete games (7) & shut outs (3).

Doctor K Rules the City: Gooden soon became larger-than-life in New York City. Manhattan's Penn Station had an enormous picture of Gooden in mid-motion recording his season's strikeout totals as the year progressed. 

Also, on the West Side there was a multi-story mural of Gooden painted on the side of a midtown building. He appeared on billboards, commercials and magazine articles, becoming the face of a winning franchise.


1985 Cy Young Award Season: In 1985, Gooden followed up with one of the best seasons any pitcher ever had. In the off season the Mets had traded to get All Star catcher Gary Carter who brought a veteran presence to his young batterymate Doctor K.

On Opening Day, Gooden surrendered four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals including a HR to Jack Clark, but after six he exited with a 5-2 lead. The Mets bullpen allowed the Cards to tie it but newcomer, Gary Carter hit a walk off HR against Neil Allen for the win

Shut Out: On April 14th, Gooden came back to beat the Cincinnati Reds with a four-hit shutout, ten strikeout performance. 

On April 19th, Gooden pitched eight shutout innings in Philadelphia battling Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. The Mets won the game 1-0 on Keith Hernandez's RBI single in the 9th inning off Don Carman. In his next start the Cardinals handed him his first loss. He rebounded with a one run four hit, nine inning game beating the Astros 4-1 at Shea.

13 K Shut Out: On May 10th Gooden beat the Phillies at Shea Stadium, tossing a three-hit shut out, the first shut out of his career. Along the way he struck out 13 walking three besting his record to 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA. 

On May 15th, Gooden allowed three runs to the Astros in Houston, but still earned the win after exiting with a lead in the 7th inning. 

After that start, he would have the worst point of his season. Gooden would lose his next starts, the then lose just one more game all season.

Doc closed out May in San Francisco, striking out 14 Giants, a new season high. He threw a six-hit one run complete game, earning win number seven (7-3). His ERA was one of the league's best at 1.79. 

From that point on Gooden would not earn another loss for the next three months until the end of August. He would go an incredible 14-0 with four no decisions, mixed in during that stretch. He would strike out 137 batters while walking just 37. He would throw ten complete games and pitch eight innings or more in sixteen of eighteen starts.

Shut Out: On Wednesday June 19th, 51,778 came to Shea to see Doc pitch a five-hit 1-0 shutout over Scott Sanderson & the Cubs. Gooden struck out nine in the game, walking two to earn his tenth win of the season. The only scoring came when Keith Hernandez walked & advanced on Gary Carter's double, then scored when Howard Johnson grounded to short.

Next in Chicago, he beat the Cubs 3-2 with another complete game. On June 30th, Doc went at with the Cards Danny Cox in a great pitcher's duel. He allowed just one run in eight innings earning no decision as Jesse Orosco took the loss on Vince Colemans walk off single in the 11th.
 
Shut Out: On July 14th, Doc had another pitcher's duel, this one with Bob Knepper in Houston. Gooden threw a 1-0 five-hitter, while striking out eleven.  It was the sixth time he reached double figures in strike outs on the season. 

He went into the All-Star break, at 13-3 with a 1.68 ERA. The Mets were 2.5 games behind St. Louis in second place. Gooden made his second All Star game but did not pitch in the NL's 6-1 win in Minneapolis.

After the break Gooden came back with wins at home over Atlanta & Houston.

Shut Out: On July 30th, he struck out ten Expos with another five-hit shutout, for his fifth shutout of the year. He reached double figures again with 11 Ks in the 2-0 victory.

The Mets started August 2.5 games behind St. Louis, in Doc's first start of the month he threw his third straight complete game, allowing just one run to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, fanning six. On August 10th, the Cubs came to Shea as Doc earned his 18th win pitching his fourth straight complete game in an 8-3 win.

3-Hit Shut Out:
On August 20th in front of 31,758 on a Wednesday night at Shea Stadium, Gooden struck out a season high 16 batters, passing the 200 strike out mark for the season as well. He threw his sixth shutout, a three-hitter over the San Francisco Giants. Gary Carter, Wally Backman & Howard Johnson all added the RBI hits.

20th Victory: On Sunday August 25h, 37,350 came to Shea to see the Doctor win his 20th game of the year. He only struck out four while allowing three runs but reached the milestone in the 9-3 win. He became the third Mets pitcher, after Tom Seaver (four times) & Jerry Koosman to reach twenty victories in a season.



On August 31st, he gave up just two runs but took his first loss in over three months, just his fourth of the season. It was also his last loss of the year.

Pitcher of the Month Award:  In September he won the Pitcher of the Month Award, going 4-0 with five complete games, striking out 10 or more batters three times.

Doc vs Fernando: On September 6th in Los Angeles, a big crowd of 51,868 came to see the Mets & Gooden go up against Fernando Valenzuela & the first place Dodgers. The Mets were just 1.5 games out of first as well. The billing did not disappoint, Gooden threw nine innings of five hit shutout ball striking out ten. Fernando threw 11 shutout innings, allowing just five hits as the game went to the 13th. Darryl Strawberry's ground rule double off Tom Niedenfuer was the only run of the game.

The Mets jumped into first place that week as they faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea for a three-game set. Darling beat Danny Cox in the first game. 

In the second game 52,616 came to Shea as Gooden matched zeros with John Tudor, sending a scoreless game to the 10th inning. Cesar Cedeno homered off Jesse Orosco to start the 10th leading to the 1-0 Cardinal win, tying the two teams in first place. The next night Keith Hernandez walk off single gave the Mets the win & a one game lead in the division.

Shut Out: On September 16th, Gooden tossed another gem, a 4th inning double from Mike Schmidt & a 9th inning single from Jeff Stone were the only Phillies hits on the night, as Gooden tossed a two-hit shutout, his seventh of the season. He tied a Mets record matching Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman. He struck out 11 for his ninth double digit K game of the year. The Mets offense gave Doc nine runs as he shut out the Phillies 9-0. It was his 21st victory & he would win four more in a row.

First Career HR: On Saturday September 21st, in another game centerfieldmaz attended with 49,931 fans at Shea, Gooden hit his first career HR. In the Mets seven run 1st inning, Gooden hit a three run HR off Rick Rhoden sending the crowd into a frenzy. At the plate he would have a big three hit four RBI Day. Gooden was always a good hitting pitcher, that season he batted .226 with a HR two doubles & nine RBIs.

On the mound that day, he cruised to his 22nd win in a 12-1 victory. He allowed the one run on four hits, in eight innings of work striking out only four. It was his last home game of the season. 

Mets Single Season Shut Out Record: On September 26th, Gooden set another franchise record as he collected his eighth shutout of the year, surpassing Seaver & Koosman. The 3-0 win came at Wrigley Field as he struck out seven to get to 266 Ks on the year with a 1.51 ERA.

NL East Showdown: On October 2nd, the Mets were in St. Louis for a showdown with their archrival foes, the Cardinals. The Rivalry was at its peak at this point, the Mets entered the series two games back with five to play, three in St. Louis. In the opener Ron Darling & John Tudor both shut out the other team thru nine innings. In the 10th Darryl Strawberry hit a mammoth HR off Ken Dayley off the clock tower at Busch Stadium for the 1-0 win.

In the second game it was a matchup of two twenty game winners, as Gooden went up against Joaquin Andujar. Gary Carter put the Mets on the board first with an RBI single. Gooden added a fielder's choice that scored George Foster in the 2nd inning. Foster homered in the 7th & Mookie Wilson had two RBIs as the Mets beat Andujar 5-2 behind Gooden.

Doc allowed an RBI triple to veteran Darrell Porter in the 1t & then an RBI single to Vince Coleman in the 9th. He struck out ten for his eleventh double digit K game of the season, keeping his league leading RBI at 1.53.

The Mets lost the next game then two of three in Montreal, finishing the season three games behind the Cardinals.

Cy Young Winner: For Gooden he won the NL Cy Young Award, winning the NL's Triple Crown of pitching leading the league in wins (24) second best in Mets history -ERA (1.53) the second-best season total in Mets history & strike outs (276) the third highest season total in Mets history.

He also led the NL in complete games (16) & innings pitched (276). He also threw a Mets record eight shutouts (second best in the NL) & became the youngest player at age twenty to win a Cy Young Award. He was second with 8.7 strike out per nine inning ratios. Gooden walked 69 batters & made 35 starts.


1986 Championship Season: As the 1986 season began, there was high expectations for the
Mets. Quickly it was realized they were the best team in the league & the winning would on coming. In a year fille with curtain calls, brawls & lots of controversy, the arrogant Mets were loved by their fans as they went all the way.

Gooden had a hard act to follow after his dominating season. It always seemed the expectations were endless, even if he won it wasn't enough unless it was a shut out or a 15 K performance. This was certainly not fair to the young Gooden & would eventually haunt him.

Pitcher of the Month Award: He began the season beating the Pirates on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, throwing a complete game victory, striking out six. 

On April 14th, he faced the rival Cardinals at Shea, getting no decision as the bullpen took the loss.

On April 19th, he faced the Phillies giving up one run on six hits, striking out ten in a 3-2 win over Shane Rawley to go to 2-0.

Shut Out: On April 25th, in St Louis he threw a five-hit shut over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He only struck out five but didn't walk anyone in the 9-0 win led by Ray Knight's HR & four RBI night.

Doc finished April with an 8-1 win over the Braves in Atlanta. He ended the month at 5-0 with a 1.04 ERA & 32 strike outs winning the Pitcher of the Month Award. 

Shut Out: On May 6th, Gooden tossed a two-hit shutout over Bob Knepper & the Houston Astros at Shea in an NLCS preview. The only hits were a 4th inning single from Glenn Davis & after retiring ten in a row, a 9th inning single from Craig Reynolds. Gooden also tripled in the game bringing in two of the Mets runs in the 4-0 win.

Over his next three starts, an unusual rocky stretch had him take two losses & a no decision. On May 22nd he gave up a season high seven runs (six earned) to the Giants in San Francisco. He would allow seven runs again (six earned) on June 18th in Montreal.

On May 28th, the night after a big brawl with the Dodgers involving Ry Knight & Tom Niedefuer after George Foster had hit a grand slam, Gooden beat LA 4-2 in a game centerfielmaz was at. He struck out ten in the five hit victory getting to 6-2. He allowed two runs but beat the Dodgers 4-2, led by HRs from Gary Carter & Kevin Mitchell.

On June 2nd, Gooden beat the Padres at home in an 11-2 Mets blow out. He kept his ERA under
two until June 7th, that night he gave up four runs but beat the Pirates 6-4. 

In his next start, he struck out 13 Pirates at Shea Stadium, where he got a no decision in a 6-5 Mets win. On July 4th, the Mets hosted the Astros as Gooden went up against Nolan Ryan in a marquee matchup. Keith Hernandez put the Mets on the board with an Rbi single, the only run Ryan gave up in five innings of work. 

Gooden shut out the Astros until the 7th inning when Kevin Bass homered to tie it up. Lenny Dykstra's double in the 7th was the game winning run off Dave Smith. The win gave Doc his tenth of the year.

Next, he pitched just four innings at Cincinnati but collected his 11th win.

1986 All Star Game: By the All Star break he was 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA leading the NL in strike outs. He was the NL's starting pitcher at the Houston Astrodome but gave up three runs & ended up taking the loss, in the 3-2 AL victory. 

In his first start after the All-Star game, he gave up two run HR to Denny Walling in Houston in a 5-4 Mets loss although he got no decision. His next game was also a no decision Mets loss.

In August he went 3-0 beating Montreal at home, allowing just one run with four hits. On August 11th, he had a ten K performance in an 8-4 win at Philadelphia for his twelfth victory.

On August 16th, he pitched eight innings allowing just one run to the Cardinals but exited the game tied. Roger McDowell took the loss in extra innings. On the West Coast trip, he earned his 13th win in San Francisco then another no decision at San Diego where he gave up just one run in seven innings of work. The Mets won it 6-5 in extras.

Doc began the September homestand taking a loss to the Giants & a complete game, one run win over the Padres. After a loss in Philadelphia, where he gave up four more earned runs, he won four of his last five decisions in the regular season. The Mets were on the verge of clinching the NL East that early, when they entered Philadelphia. But an unusual losing streak had them come home to win it front of the hometown fans at Shea.

Mets Clinch NL East:  On September 17th, 47,823 paid fans came to Shea including centerfieldmaz in hopes of the Mets clinching the NL East title. Thier first since 1973 some 13 long years later. After the years of losing & last place this was a biggie.

On the historic evening Doc was given the ball against the Dennis Eckersley & the Cubs. Gooden did not disappoint; in the big game he allowed two runs on six hits as he struck out eight & walked five. 

Rookie Dave Magadan & Darryl Strawberry provided RBI singles in the 3rdinning. The two added RBI hits later as well in the 4-2 win. The Cubs Rafael Palmeiro hit a two run HR off Gooden for the only Cubs runs. 

In the top of the 9th, an anxious Gooden walked Jody Davis. Shawon Dunston then grounded into a force. Veteran Chris Speir singled putting the tying run on base. But Gooden then struck out pinch hitter Jerry Mumphrey. Now Shea Stadium was ready to bust as the anticipation was building.

Chico Walker then grounded to Wally Backman at second base, he threw to Keith Hernandez
who had come into the game in the 9th inning, for the final out. 

The Mets had clinched, it was bedlam as the fans stormed the field. It certainly was not the right thing to do but times were different & this was what fans did especially in New York. 

The field was torn apart as was various pieces of Shea Stadium, including the centerfield wall which was made of wood, as I have a piece of it to this day. Back then they had all the fans exit thru centerfield to clear the field.

  
Gooden made three more starts & won two more of the games, winning his final three decisions


On the year Gooden went 17-6 (fifth most wins in the NL) with a .857 winning second in the NL) & 12complete games (second in the NL). For the third straight year he struck out 200 batters, (fifth most in the NL.

 He posted a 2.84 ERA (fifth best in the NL) pitched 250 innings (fifth in the league) & had two shut outs (5th in the NL). He was seventh in the Cy Young voting.

1986 Post Season: Gooden was still the Mets ace & star pitcher going into the postseason. Looking back, he is not given enough credit for his NLCS performances, two games 17 innings pitched, two earned runs, with a 1.06 ERA, nine strike outs, sixteen hits & five walks.

1986 NLCS: In Game #1 of the NLCS at the Houston Astrodome, against the Astros, Gooden pitched a fine game. In the bottom of the 2nd, he gave up a leadoff HR to Glenn Davis. It was the only run he allowed on the night, giving up seven hits, striking out five while walking three in seven innings of work.

But took the loss in a heart breaking 1-0 pitcher's duel to Mike Scott who shut out the Mets on five hits, while striking out 14. The Mets batters were fooled but claimed that Scott was scuffing the baseballs. They even had proof but the umpires & the league did not agree.


With the series tied up at one game each, Gooden returned to the mound at Shea Stadium for Game # 5 in a classic pitcher's duel with Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan. It was a classic for the ages, living up to the billing. centerfieldmaz was lucky to be in attendance at Shea on that day.

After a rainy start to the afternoon game, Gooden would pitch ten innings of one run ball, striking out four Astros, scattering nine hits, while walking only two. 

In the 5th inning, Alan Ashby doubled & Craig Reynolds singled. With two on & one out, Bill Doran grounded out in a force at second, but Ashby was able to score the only Astro run.

Nolan Ryan matched Gooden along the way pitching nine innings himself. The only run he gave up was Darryl Strawberry's 5th inning solo HR. Ryan only gave up two hits on the day & struck out 12. He gave way to Charlie Kerfeld who would take his second NLCS loss. The Mets went on to win the game in the 12th inning, on Gary Carters walk off base hit.

In the NLCS Gooden allowed two runs on 16 hits in 17 innings or work, he struck out nine & walked five going 0-1.


1986 World Series: In the World Series against Boston, he didn’t get past the 5th inning in either of his two starts. 

In Game #2 at Shea Stadium, he went up against Roger Clemens in highly anticipated match up with two of the youngest star pitchers of the era. 

In the 3rd inning, Gooden walked Spike Owen. After getting Clemens on a fielders choice Wade Boggs doubled bringing in the first Red Sox run. Consecutive base hits from Marty Barrett & Bill Buckner made it 3-0 Sox.

The Mets answered with two runs off Clemens with RBI hits from Wally Backman & Keith Hernandez.

In the top of the 4th Dave Henderson led off with a HR. In the 6th, Jim Rice singled & Dwight Evans homered to make it 6-2 Red Sox.


That was it for Gooden, he allowed six runs on eight hits, striking out six & walking four taking no decision in the loss as the Mets fell down two games to none.

The Mets evened up the series after the first two games in Boston. Gooden got the start in Game #5 at Fenway Park, but he could not put the Mets ahead in the series. In the bottom of the 2nd, Dave Henderson tripled & scored on Spike Owen's sac fly. The next inning Bill Buckner reached on Ray Knight's error & Gooden walked Jim Rice. Dwight Evans singled bringing in Buckner making it 2-0.

In the 5th, Jim Rice tripled & Don Baylor's base hit made it 3-0. Mets manager Davey Johnson removed Gooden, he gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits. He struck out three & walked two taking the loss to Bruce Hurst, who was tough on the Mets. 

In his two World Series starts, Gooden was 0-2 as he gave up eight earned runs (8.00 ERA) on 17 hits with nine strike outs & four walks in nine innings of work.

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