Dwight Gooden (Part Two) After The Championship (1987-1994)

1986 Post World Series Drama: In the first real big sign of trouble in Gooden's young life was when he missed the team victory parade. It wasn't until years later he revealed he was getting high the night before on a cocaine binge & was unable to recuperate for the morning parade. The Mets announced that their star pitcher had overslept, but no one believed it.

Years later he revealed, the Night after winning World Series Doc was in a housing project in Roslyn Long Island getting high with friends & strangers. He partied all night passed out & missed the parade. He started drinking then smoking pot. 

He began using coke in 1985 at his cousins house trying to score pot. His cousin left him & there were two girls in the apartment in lignite playing together in the bed room. They invited him in, he tried the coke & the girls & was hooked.

More Drama: Gooden was soon arrested on December 13th, 1986 in Tampa, Florida after fighting with police. Rumors of drug use started to arise, and then it was proven when he tested positive for cocaine during spring training in 1987. 

He shattered images of his greatness for so many fans by coming up dirty. 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 5th two months into the season. 

Gooden's rehab stint was like a vacation in Manhattan. He ate good foods & had news papers smuggled in to him. The rest of the patients in the rehab center did not enjoy the luxury's Dr. K did. He didn't believe he was an addict & didn't believe in the program. 

Obviously in the long run it did not work, he stopped the cocaine for a while but after his first game back from rehab, he started drinking again on the plane ride.

In his first start after rehab, he took the hill at Shea Stadium in front of 51,400 fans against the Pittsburgh Pirates. centerfieldmaz was there again. Gooden went six innings allowing four hits, on one run while striking out five, getting the win getting a huge ovation from the Shea crowd. 

In his book; Doc, he said he was overwhelmingly humbled by the warm reaction he received from the fans after returning.

In his next start he struck out ten batters with an eighth inning performance at Wrigley Field. On June 15th he allowed four runs in Montreal & took his first loss. Three straight winning decisions followed, including complete games against the Phillies & Cards at Shea Stadium. In that June 30th win over St. Louis he struck out nine.

 He found himself at 5-1 by the start of July. He took a loss & win into the All Star break, with a 6-2 record, while posting a 2.78 ERA. In his first game after the break, On July 16th he threw a seven hit shutout against the Cincinnati Reds at Shea. 

On July 21st he gave up five earned runs in a loss to the Braves. He closed out the month with a complete game win in St. Louis. On August 1st, he recorded a season high 11 strike outs, the first time he had double figures in Ks in two months. In his next two outings he pitched 14 innings combined giving up a total of 11 earned runs.

Gooden rebounded and won his next three starts, never allowing more than two runs. On August 28th he threw his second shut out, a four hitter over the Giants at Candlestick Park. 

By the end of August he was 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA with 98 Ks, despite missing a third of the season. A disappointing September had him go 3-4, allowing six runs & five runs in two of those losses. 

His best game that month was a three hit shut out in Montreal where he matched his high of 11 strike outs. But the Mets too had their own troubles too, after getting a close as 1.5 games back of those pesky Cardinals in mid September, they couldn't catch them. They finished second in the days of no wild card, three game out. 

For 1987, Gooden went 15-7 (fifth most wins in the NL) with a 3.21 ERA, (5th best in the NL). He struck out 148 batters (9th in the NL) with three shut outs & seven complete games (6th in the NL) in 179 innings pitched in 25 starts. 

The Mets finished second to the Cardinals disappointing their fans who expected a repeat of the Championship.

1988 NL Eastern Champion Season: In 1988, Gooden earned the win on Opening Day in Montreal although he lasted just five innings, allowing four runs on eleven hits. 

In his second start, he lasted six innings taking a 4-3 win over the Phillies. On April 15th, he pitched six shut out innings allowing just two hits, as the Mets beat the Cardinals 3-0.

On April 20th he had his season high in strike outs (11). It was also the only time all year he would reach double figures in Ks. The strike outs & innings pitched were getting noticeable lower.

Still he had a great start to the season, going 5-0 in April with two complete games. 

On May 1st he tossed a four hit shutout in Cincinnati as the Mets beat up the Reds 11-0. At Shea in his next start, the Red collected 11 hits off Gooden, but he surrendered just two runs, he took no decision in the Mets 4-3 win.

On May 16th, he gave up ten hits on four runs in San Diego, getting a win as the Mets scored him seven runs. 

On May 21st he brought his record to a league best, 8-0 with a 2.77 ERA. That night for his eighth win, he threw one of his best games of the year, a four hit shutout in Los Angeles striking out six Dodgers, walking just one. 

In June he went 2-3 earning losses in games where he allowed three & four runs. Gooden earned his tenth win on June 22nd, as he pitched eight innings of shut out ball at Shea to beat the Pirates. To begin July he threw a five hit victory against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium. In the game he allowed two runs, but both were un earned, as he lowered his ERA under three to 2.90. 

 1988 All Star Game: By the All Star break, the Mets were firmly in first place. Gooden was 11-5 with a 3.04 ERA, had tossed three shut outs & although the strike outs had diminished, he made the All Star team.

Gooden got to start his second All Star game in his short five year career. Although he only allowed one run, a HR to Oakland's Terry Steinbach; he was the losing pitcher in the 2-1 AL victory. 

After the break he won his next two starts, not giving up more than two runs in either start. At the end of July he was 13-5 with a 2.88 ERA. 

Gooden went 7-4 in the second half & all of a sudden wasn't the ace anymore. He became the second best pitcher on the staff as David Cone won twenty games (20-3) with the leagues best winning % while striking out 213 batters .

The Mets won 100 games (100-60) as Davey Johnson won his second NL Eastern title getting to the post season. 

Gooden would finish 18-9 (5th most wins in the NL) with a 3.19 ERA, 175 strike outs (8th in the NL) in 248 innings pitched (6th in the NL) in 34 starts (4th most in the NL). He allowed just eight HRs all year, 0.29 per nine innings (third best in the NL) with three shut outs & ten complete games (5th in the NL).

Post Season- 1988 NLCS: In Game #1 of the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Gooden went up against Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser. Gooden pitched well, allowing just four hits with ten strikeouts, leaving after seven innings pitched trailing 2-0.

The Mets went on to win the game when Daryl Strawberry & Gary Carter hit RBI doubles to score three runs in the 9th inning.

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 instead of going to the bullpen, Davey Johnson made one of his worst decisions as a Mets manger leaving Gooden in to pitch a bit too long. Doc ended up allowing a now infamous game-tying HR to Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia, and the Dodgers eventually went on to win the game in 12 innings.

The rest is history as the Dodgers & Hershiser rebounded to win the series & the World Series. Interestingly it must be noted, Gooden never won a postseason game, going 0-4 in eight series, 0-3 in two post seasons with the Mets.

Gooden began the 1989 season on a positive note. He got the win on Opening Day, striking out eight in seven innings. He did allow four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals, but his Mets scored 8 runs. 

On April 9th, he allowed one run on just three hits, in a 2-1 win at Montreal beating Dennis Martinez. After a no decision, he beat the Cubs & then went into the 9th inning, beating the Atlanta Braves, only allowing a run, while striking out nine.

Gooden began the year going 5-0 into the start of May posting an ERA just over two, before taking a loss to the Astros. He then struck out eleven Padres but took a no decision. 

On May 18th, he won his 6th game of the year, pitching eight innings against the reigning champion Dodgers.

From June 7th through the 19th, he won three straight games, to get to 9-2. On June 14th, he shut out the Cubs for six innings, earning the win & lowering his ERA to 2.47.

On July 1st he pitched just two innings, allowing three runs to the Cincinnati Reds taking the loss. From there he would miss the next two and a half months with a shoulder injury. 

Gooden would make just two more relief appearances in late September.

On the season he posted a 9-4 record in just 17 starts with 101 strike outs & 47 walks in 118 innings. As for the Mets, they finished 87-75 in second place that year.

He started out 1990 by losing on Opening Day, to the Mets latest new rival, the Pittsburgh Pirates. He went to 0-2 before, earning his first win. On April 19th, he allowed just one run in seven innings against the Cubs. 

Although he had two double digit strike out games over his next four starts, including a 15 K performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 11th, he found himself at 3-5 by the start of June.

But in June he turned it all around going 16-2 for the rest of the season, including a stretch of seven straight wins in seven straight starts that summer. It was like the Doc of old that summer, especially on June 23rd; when he tossed a two hit shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies striking out seven. 

On July 17th, he won his tenth game, having another double digit strike out game, blowing away ten Astros in Houston in a Mets 6-2 win. On July 29th he shut out St. Louis in six innings, as the Mets won it 6-0. 

After a loss to the same Cardinals on August 4th, he went on an eight game win streak.
Even though he allowed a season high seven runs (in 5.2 innings) to the Dodgers, the Mets scored him nine runs & he took the win. He then got beat up by the Giants in Frisco but the Mets bailed him out again, in a 10-9 win. 

On August 24th in Los Angeles, Gooden struck out a season high 11 batters.  He pitched into the 9th inning, allowing two runs on six hits, for his 14th win.

Down the stretch he won eight of his last nine games, including five straight September wins. He kept the Mets in the pennant race, as they got as close to a half game of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but losing eight of their last 15 killed them.

Gooden lost his final start the last game of the season. It was to be his last great season, as he won 19 games (going 19-7) fourth most wins in the NL. He struck out 223 batters, second only to team mate David Cone (233). It was the first time in four years he got to the 200 K mark.

He was fourth in the league in starts (34) winning % (.731%) & innings pitched (236). He posted a 3.83 ERA and pitched one shut out with two complete games. Gooden was back on top again & the fans were excited. But things changed for the Mets heading into the nineties.

In 1990, Daryl Strawberry claimed in his book that he wouldn't be surprised if Gooden had been snorting cocaine during the 1986 World Series. Doc was upset that his friend  Daryl said this as well as other negative things about him in the book. 

Daryl tried to make light of the situation & blamed other people involved in the book for misunderstanding his words in print. 

In his 2013 book Doc claimed he & Daryl, were never as close as the media made them out to be. He surprisingly said that he does not even consider Strawberry a friend today. 

1991 & Decline: Then in 1991 he suffered another injury and his career began to decline. The year began well as he pitched at eight innings on Opening Day, allowing just one run to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in front of the home crowd. His next start was a complete game win over the Expos. Gooden struck out 14 batters, which would be his highest single game K total for the year. He would not pitch another double digit K game all year.

He was 3-1 in April although he lost his next two starts and at the start of June found himself at 5-5 on a second place Mets team. 

On June 15th he shut out the Astros in a complete game three hitter. He then beat the Braves going eight innings, although he gave up five runs. 

In July he went 4-0, starting out the month with an eight inning one run win, where he struck out nine batters in Philadelphia. After wins at home against the Giants & Dodgers, he tossed another eight inning shut out. A four hitter over the Padres at San Diego, where he struck out four.

He won his fifth straight decision in August to get to 13 wins. But then tragedy struck on August 22nd, when an arm injury ended his season. 

He finished up the 1991 season at 13-7 with a 3.60 ERA striking out 150 batters in 190 innings in 27 starts. The Mets fell to fifth place & went from Bud Harrelson at manager to Mike Cubbage at the end of the year. 

In 1992 Gooden posted his first losing season, going 10-13 with the third most wins on the staff. He posted a 3.67 ERA striking out 145 batters in 206 innings (second on the staff to Sid Fernandez) as the Mets finished in fifth place going 72-90. He never struck out more than seven batters in a game all year, and his best performance was a four hit, one run complete game victory on the next to last game of the season.

More Drama: In 1992 a woman accused him of especially but charges were eventually dropped as the woman's story eventually fell apart. 

The events took place a year earlier in Jupiter Fla. as Doc, Daryl Boston & Vince Coleman all went out after a spring training game. The three players ended up all having sex with the same woman who was reportedly seeing David Cone as well. A year later she came forward with rape allegations.

This was the kind of thing Hubbie Brooks had warned Gooden of back in his rookie year. Brooks has said let the woman know its just a one night stand, be respectful but make her leave when it's over.


In 1993 the Mets went through Jeff Torborg & Dallas Green as managers finishing in seventh place with a horrible 59- 103 record. Gooden started out Opening Day on a familiar note, he pitched a four hit shut out, walking one & striking out four against the Colorado Rockies in their franchise debut. 

After two losses, including one to the Rockies at Coors Field, he pitched seven scoreless against the Giants in a big 10-0 Mets win. He started out May with two complete game wins, including a four hit, complete game shut out against the Florida Marlins.

Things went bad for both him & the team, he lost four straight games, five of six into late July. In San Diego he beat the Padres & then the Marlins again at home, going into the 7th inning both times. He reached ten wins once again & won his eleventh on August 1st. But then Gooden lost four straight & was done for the year by September.  

All in all his ERA was respectable at 3.45 & he was the team leader in victories (12) starts (29) winning percentage (.444%)& strike outs (149) on a staff of veterans Sid Fernandez, Frank Tanana, Bret Saberhagen & Eric Hillman. 

Overall he was 12-15 with seven complete games & two shut outs. But this was a long way from the glory days almost a decade ago. Spirts Illustrated even ran an article that said Gooden "From Phenom to Phantom". In less than two years his Times Square mural would also be washed away.

In 1994 Gooden pitched his final Mets Opening Day, although he allowed seven runs on eleven hits in 5.2 innings of work he earned the win in a wild 12-8 Mets win at Wrigley Field. He started out the year at 2-0, throwing six shutout innings at Shea on April 16th against the Astros.

In his second start, he pitched four shut out innings, striking out five beating the Astros at home. He then gave up seven runs in Los Angeles & six earned runs against the Expos. 

After his third straight loss he fell to 2-3. On June 19th, he won what was to be his last Mets game. The win came in his home state of Florida, as he beat the Marlins 6-1. In that game he pitched eight innings, allowed just three hits & struck out six Marlins.

On June 24th, he pitched what was to be his last Mets game, as he would get caught dirty with cocaine in his system, violating the MLB drug policy. In his last start, he lost at Shea Stadium to the Pirates allowing nine runs in 5.1 innings of work. In the strike shortened 1994 season, he only pitched in seven games, going 3-4 with a 6.31 ERA in only 41 innings. 

More Drama: In June 1994 Gooden went out one night by himself. It wasn't like the old days when Rusty Staub would take him to  a nice restaurant. On this night, he went to Scores strip club in Queens. Two of the strippers took him to the managers office & tempted him with his old demon, cocaine. 

At first he said no but after a few shots, he caved in. He later said, he had missed the feeling of coke up his nose dropping down to his throat. He wanted to feel it again & was back on the stuff, hooked.

Gooden Mets career ended in 1994, at age 29 and he finished near the top of most of the Mets all time pitching records next to Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. 

Mets All Time Leader Board: He is second on the Mets all time list in wins (157) & strike outs (1875). He is third behind Seaver & Jerry Koosman in starts (303) innings pitched (2169) & complete games (67). He is fourth in shut outs (23) tenth in games pitched (305) & thirteenth in ERA (3.10). 


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