Dwight Gooden, better known as Doc, will be making an appearance at Wilkes University on Friday, April 20th at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs. Gooden will deliver the keynote address at Wilkes University’s Pennsylvania Pain and Addiction Summit, where he will go through his struggles with addiction and his fight on the way to his eventual recovery.
Gooden pitched 16 seasons in the Major Leagues, 11 of them for the New York Mets. He had a very impressive rookie year for the Mets in 1984, recording a 17-9 record, a 2.60 ERA and 276 strikeouts, leading to him winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Gooden would not disappoint the following season, as he went on to win 24 games and would win the National League Cy Young Award. He also finished fifth in MVP voting that year. He would then help the Mets win a World Series title in 1986.
However, only a few months after achieving the goal of every athlete, winning the championship in their sport, Gooden started facing problems with drug and alcohol use. In December of the same year, Gooden was arrested for fighting with police in his hometown of Tampa, and came back to Mets training camp testing positive for cocaine. Instead of taking a suspension, he decided to attend rehab from April until June.
Gooden still remained an effective pitcher for a few more seasons, but his cocaine and alcohol addiction derailed his career and he was not as effective towards the end. In each year from 1992-94, Gooden recorded a losing record, and in 1995 he was suspended for the entirety of the season for testing positive to a drug test while already serving a prior suspension. He would then stay in New York, going a subway trip away from Queens, where the Mets play, to the Bronx, to play for the Yankees. In his first season on the Yankees in 1996, he would come up with another career achievement, throwing a no-hitter in May of that season. Gooden would then add another World Series title to his resume, as he helped the Yankees win their first World Series since 1978.
After retirement, Gooden would continue to struggle with addiction, which resulted in several incidents leading to his arrest. In 2006, Gooden violated the terms of his probation, as he showed up high on cocaine to a meeting with his probation officer. He would be incarcerated for seven months, choosing prison over extended probation, hoping that incarceration would help him learn his lesson and get over the temptations of addiction.
About four years after being released from prison, in 2010, Gooden was arrested for driving under the influence of an undisclosed substance, and endangering the welfare of a child that was in the vehicle with him. He pled guilty to child endangerment and received five more years of probation.
Gooden entered a recovery program in the late 2000s and he wrote a book in 2013, titled “Doc”, which depicts his struggle with addiction and his road to recovery as one of the premier pitchers in the history of the game. In the book, Gooden goes through the ups and downs of his Major League career and his personal life.