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Dwight “Doc” Gooden was one of the most dominant pitchers of his era, a dazzling right-hander that amassed over 2,000 strikeouts in his career. On this day in 1985, Gooden became the youngest player ever to win the coveted Cy Young Award at the age of 20.

Gooden, born November 16, 1964, was raised in Tampa, Fla. Gooden was drafted in the first round in the 1982 MLB draft and taken fifth overall. After a season in the minors, Gooden made a fast track leap to the Majors with the assistance of Mets skipper Davey Johnson.

The Cy Young Award is given annually to the best Major League Baseball pitchers in both the American and National Leagues. In 1984, as a member of the New York Mets, Gooden was named the NL Rookie of the Year. The following year, after a season that had analysts prematurely naming him to the MLB Hall of Fame, Gooden won the NL Cy Young Award just shy of his 21st birthday. Gooden was also named the “Pitcher of the Year” by the Sporting News.

Gooden starred for the Mets until 1994, then spent a year with the New York Yankees. He is a four-time MLB All-Star, three-time World Series champion, and a winner of the 1985 Triple Crown. The Mets inducted Gooden to its Hall of Fame in 2010.

Like Mets teammate Darryl Strawberry, Gooden had very public struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism, culminating in a series of embarrassing arrests. Many observers feel that these infractions with the police are the reason his name has been removed from future Hall of Fame ballot nominations.

Today, Gooden has mended his life and his now clean and sober. He credits Strawberry’s friendship as part of his recovery. Strawberry, now an ordained minister, travels about the country speaking on the dangers of drug addiction and alcoholism. A few years ago, the pair buried their differences and became friends.

Gooden details much of his incredible story in his 2013 book, Doc: A Memoir. 

Photo by Slgckgc

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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