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Baseball fans turn out to see ‘Doc’ Gooden


There are two generations of Dwight “Doc” Gooden fans.

There is the generation that saw Gooden and his killer fastball-curve combination take Major League Baseball by storm in the mid-1980s.

They saw the best of Gooden, when he was winning the 1984 National League Rookie of the Year award and the 1985 NL Cy Young award with the New York Mets.

But the younger generation probably knows Gooden more from seeing his mug shot on TMZ, or from his stint on the VH1 show “Celebrity Rehab.”

Gooden is trying to change that.

The legendary, slim and lengthy right-handed pitcher was the guest of honor at the Watertown Rams’ annual Hot Stove Dinner on Friday night at Savory Downtown.

Gooden has been traveling and speaking to crowds to share stories about his career and struggles with addiction, answer questions, and just talk baseball with his fans.

“I enjoy these events because I get to talk to the fans that have supported me, on and off the field,” Gooden said. “As a player, you don’t get these opportunities to sit down and talk with the fans because everything is moving so fast, so I enjoy these (events).”

Gooden’s story has been well documented.

He made his major league debut with the Mets as a 19-year-old phenomenon in 1984, and went on to make four All-Star appearances, win three World Series titles, compile 194 career wins, record more than 2,000 career strikeouts and throw a memorable no-hitter with the New York Yankees in 1996.

And in doing so, Gooden developed strong addictions to drugs and alcohol.

The first notable incident was when Gooden tested positive for cocaine in spring training with the Mets in 1987. He entered a rehabilitation center and didn’t make his first start until June that year.

Talk of drug use followed Gooden throughout his career, and after he retired in 2000, the arrests piled up.

“It took me a long time to get the message,” Gooden said. “I always thought that being a man, you can do things yourself, but it doesn’t work that way. I don’t have to go through this alone.”

“Asking for help, that’s what really makes you a man. I get that now,” Gooden added.

Gooden, now 48, said that he will be two-years sober in March.

When he’s not speaking to groups or making appearances at schools, Gooden said he invests his time into his family.

Gooden spoke of his oldest son, Dwight Jr., and his budding rap career. Gooden said he was excited to see his son release his first album this spring.

He also said he enjoys following two of his sons’ high school sports careers, and spending time with his two daughters in college.

He is also coaching his youngest son’s little league team, which he said was “fun but challenging.”

“When I was playing, I was always away and missed those things. So now it’s all about that for me,” Gooden said.

Gooden also runs an indoor baseball academy in New Jersey in the winter months, teaching young players about the art of pitching.

But in between, Gooden is traveling and talking to his fans, like the group on Friday at Savory Downtown, to reminisce about the good times and help young athletes avoid the pitfalls that he fell into.

“For the athletes, I try to tell them to give it their all and love what you’re doing,” Gooden said.

“And for others, if you see someone going through challenges, just be supportive.”

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