Hall Of Fame Debate: Cast Your Vote For Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden!!!
You’re going to think that I am nuts with this one, but that is alright – I can take it.
My passion for baseball began in the mid-1980′s and was in full-stride well before my tenth birthday. First, I enjoyed playing the sport casually to then playing competitively. I enjoyed catching a few innings of baseball on television to making sure that I was home for Braves and Mets games on cable. And I went from thinking that baseball cards were cool to becoming enthralled with them.
In my thirty years of being a pretty devout baseball fan, I have seen some amazingly talented young guys hoist the sport on their backs during their debut season in the big leagues.
From Ken Griffey, Jr. to Hideo Nomo. From Nomar Garciaparra to Ichiro Suzuki. And most recently from Mike Trout to Bryce Harper. All amazing ballplayers and all deserving of the huge amounts of attention sent their way.
But, NO player in my time as a fan has captivated fans, players, and the sport during their rookie seasons at the level that Dwight Gooden did.
At 19-years of age, Dwight Gooden broke into the game of baseball and became the sport’s best player and showcase talent. He did it in the wildest and most crazed city of them all – New York. And he smiled and dominated every step of the way.
No other rookies during my time as a fan have appeared on multiple national sports publications, or on the cover of nationwide periodicals like Time Magazine like Dwight Gooden did.
With the exception of Ken Griffey Jr, no player during his rookie season was able to attract new fans to the world of baseball card collecting – but Gooden did.
In his first three seasons of professional baseball, Dwight Gooden won 58 games and lost just 19. He had an ERA of 2.32 over those three seasons and he struck out 744 men as well. He literally put the New York Mets on his back and led them to the playoffs, ultimately winning the World Series in 1986, and along the way, he earned the nicknames of ‘Doc’ and ‘Dr. K’ for the manner in which he dissected his opposition. He was an All-Star, a Rookie Of The Year, A Cy Young Award winner. And he was on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dwight Gooden was impossible to ignore, regardless of the team you were cheering for. If ‘Doc’ was pitching, it was going to be a show.
We all know about Gooden’s issues that lead to his demise – both on and off of the field. They have been documented repeatedly and have followed him around well after his playing days ended.
And to be honest, I don’t really care. Sure, I would love for him to have been squeaky clean – I’d like for all of the athletes that I enjoy watching to be that way. But, I am a realist – I understand that everyone has demons, and Gooden’s were just played out in the public eye because of his very high-profile job.
Still, his major league baseball career was incredible – 194-112 record, 63.4 win percentage, 3.51 career ERA, 68 complete games, 24 shutouts, 1 no-hitter. Gooden has a career average of 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and a K:Walk ratio of 2.40:1.0.
Gooden appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2006. He was only named on 17 ballot’s earning him just 3.3% of the vote. His vote tally of less than 5% of votes cast ensured that he would not be on future Hall of Fame ballots.
But, you know what – I’d vote for him. I think that Dwight Gooden, and all that he offered baseball, is a good thing for a museum like the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know from first-hand experience that he changed the landscape of baseball card collecting and he thrilled baseball fans all around the world each and every time he went to the mound during the early parts of his career.
I was too young to experience and understand what ‘Fernando-Mania’ was all about in 1981. And I was born right after Fred Lynn dominated the entire American League in 1975.
But, I was around and I have tons of memories of ‘The Birth Of Dr.K’.
And if I had my say, he would have a spot in Cooperstown. Maybe not on the same wall as Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron and Stan Musial. But his popularity and the attention that he brought to the sport during his era can certainly rival those gentlemen.
Chime in on Dwight Gooden’s impact on the game. Does a player like Gooden, or players like Gooden, deserve to have a spot in Cooperstown?
I’m eager to see what you have to say!!!