I watched the 30 for 30 (directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bifiglio) about Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden and came away with an appreciation for the ups and downs superstars can face when drugs are involved. Both players should have made it to Cooperstown instead of being known for DUI’s, wife beating, cocaine and crack use, and going to jail.
Dwight “Doc” Gooden
1984-1986 – “The Glory Years for Dr. K”
Dwight’s 1985 season goes down as one as the best in history. The 1.52 ERA is lowest ERA in the modern era for an entire season. To give an idea of how astounding this mark is, it ranks #42nd of all time lowest ERA’s in a season. If you click on the link, the top 40 above him were all done before 1920. The only even comparable season was in 1968 when Bob Gibson put up a 1.123 mark. This is insane to think he put up this season at the age of 20 and it hasn’t been touched in 30 years.
In 1986 the Mets won the world season with the infamous ball through Buckner’s legs in game 6. After the Mets won game 7, Gooden hit up his drug dealer, partied too hard and ended up missing the parade the following day. After the 1986 season, Gooden had an incident where he fought with police during a traffic stop and troubles began for him. Rumors began swirling that one of the 2 “black superstars” on the team was using cocaine and Darryl said it wasn’t him.
He was still an above average pitcher after 1986 achieving records of 15-7, 18-9, 9-4, 19-7, 13-7 in the subsequent years before the drugs really took their toll. Dwight was never able to free himself from addiction and his career never recovered as the years passed. A notable story of his was in 1996 he signed with the New York Yankees and no-hit the Seattle Mariners the same day that his dad had a life-threatening surgery. He passed a few days later but it’s another spirit lifting story.
Dwight made the HoF ballot but was only selected by 17 of the 520 voters. His legal troubles continued through the 2000’s and he spent time in jail for traffic incidents, using drugs on probation, and hitting his girlfriend. As of 2015 he was jittery in the sit down with Darryl but “seemed” sober. He appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2011 and it’s great to see how worthless that time was.
What a combination of power and speed and to think it was all while being high. In the documentary, Darryl recalled “playing naked” which is when you weren’t taking “greenies”, which are code name for amphetamines. As Darryl said, “the ball looks huge coming across the plate when you’re on “greenies”” Darryl’s lifestyle was greenies to get pumped for the game, party at night, sleep during the day, and repeat day after day. It’s amazing that he was as productive as was.
Darryl and Doc’s story were similar in that they both suffered from substance abuse but Darryl has finally found a clean life whereas I wouldn’t be so sure with Dwight. Darryl married a woman from his NA class and appears to be living a healthy lifestyle. He had been in jail numerous times throughout the years and battled colon cancer in 1998. He has stayed out of trouble since 2005. This story in 2002 pretty much sums up his problems:
On September 11, 2000, in Tampa, Strawberry tried to drive to see his probation officer after taking painkillers. While driving, he blacked out, rear-ended another car, and then tried to drive away. An off-duty police officer witnessed the episode and arrested him at gunpoint. The next day, Strawberry admitted to the charges and his probation was changed to two years of house arrest. On November 21, he was sentenced to a year of probation and community service. On October 25, 2000, Strawberry left a Tampa drug treatment center to use drugs with a female friend violating his house arrest and parole. On November 9, he was sentenced to 40 days in jail with credit for time served.On November 3, 2000, Strawberry told a judge in Tampa that he had lost his will to live and had stopped chemotherapy. On November 30, he was released from jail and sent back to rehab. On April 2, 2001, Strawberry was arrested for again disappearing from his house arrest drug treatment center in Tampa. On May 1, he was sentenced to more time at a drug treatment center.