Tuesday, May 21 2024

The Doctor is officially in.

On Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, the Mets will hold a pregame ceremony to retire the No. 16 worn by the legendary Dwight “Doc” Gooden.

“It means a great deal,” Gooden said in a press conference. “The thing about it, growing up in Tampa with [nephew Gary Sheffield], playing baseball in the backyard, sometimes one-on-one, you never dream about having your number retired. You talk about maybe playing the big leagues one day, maybe winning the World Series, but you never talk about having your number retired.

“So, for this day to happen, and happen with the team that I was drafted by, I look back when I started in ’82 and [scouting director Joe McIlvaine ]drafted me. It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s something that I never thought would possibly happen. … The things I did on the field, I thought I always had a chance, but unfortunately the things I did off the field, I thought it diminished that and that it wouldn’t happen. So, last year when I got the call from Steve Cohen, I was definitely surprised a little bit, but then I had to take a deep breath back and just suck it in. Obviously, I teared up a little bit. It’s a situation that you want to share with your dad but unfortunately he’s not here, but I get the opportunity to share it with my kids, my grandkids, great-grandkids, my family, and that’s what it’s all about.

“I look at it not just as a retirement, but as a celebration.”

Dwight GoodenDwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden / SNY Treated Image

A first-round pick of the Mets in 1982, Gooden quickly became appointment viewing, and his starts at Shea Stadium seemed almost bigger than the games themselves. In 1984, Gooden won NL Rookie of the Year while finishing second in NL Cy Young voting. His 1985 campaign remains one of the best single seasons by a pitcher in the history of the game, as the right-hander won the pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (24), ERA (1.53) and strikeouts (268) while winning the Cy Young Award in the process.

In 1986, Gooden threw 12 complete games and posted a 2.84 ERA as the Mets went on to win the World Series. In total, he pitched 11 seasons with the Mets, racking up 157 wins (second in franchise history), 1,875 strikeouts (second in franchise history) and a 3.10 ERA.

The story of Gooden’s career includes its ups and downs, as he dealt with drug-related issues that caused him to miss the Mets’ championship parade in 1986. The team cut ties with Gooden in 1994, but has now welcomed him back.

While Gooden has been open about his struggles, he said on Sunday that he looks back on the positives from his career, instead of dwelling on the negatives.

“I’ve got to be thankful for the things I did accomplish, and not worry about the things that didn’t happen. And not to blow smoke, but I won just about every award a pitcher can win,” Gooden said. “I won the World Series with both New York teams, having your number retired, last year I was inducted into the Negro League Museum’s ‘Hall of Game.’ I have nothing to be ashamed of about my career.

“Basically, I look at it as a celebration and I’m proud of the things that I’ve accomplished.”

Gooden’s number is the ninth to be retired in Mets history, with the most recent two being Willie Mays’ No. 24 and Keith Hernandez’s No. 17, both of which were retired in 2022. The other retired numbers belong to Casey Stengel (No. 37), Gil Hodges (No. 14), Tom Seaver (No. 41), Jackie Robinson (No. 42), Mike Piazza (No. 31), and Jerry Koosman (No. 36).

“It’s going to be amazing,” said Francisco Lindor. “It’s going to be another beautiful day for New York Mets history. This is a long time coming. This is one of those where he is one of the reasons the New York Mets organization is loved. He’s amazing. I’m super happy for him and his family. I’m excited for the day.”

“What a special day this is for all of us in here,” added Carlos Mendoza. “What an honor and what a privilege, especially for all of us Mets fans and the franchise and the team to get to celebrate the retirement of No. 16, Dwight Gooden.

“For me, a kid growing up in Venezuela, we didn’t get much TV back in the day, but I remember my dad telling me the days that you were pitching and it was a show. It was going to be special and we all knew it.”

Source: Yahoo Sports


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