Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry both had checkered roads throughout their baseball lives, but next season the New York Mets will recognize both by retiring their numbers 16 and 18, respectively.
No. 16 and No. 18: Forever enshrined in Mets history.— New York Mets (@Mets) August 24, 2023
Next season, we will retire Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry’s numbers. pic.twitter.com/WvgZ0SuxvA
A date for the separate ceremonies has not been announced yet.
Under the leadership of owner Steve Cohen, the Mets have been on a mission to recognize the history of the franchise, something the previous owners, Fred and Jeff Wipon frowned upon.
Under Cohen: Jerry Koosman, Keith Hernandez, Willie Mayes, and now Gooden and Strawberry have all had their numbers retired.
Who will be next? David Wright? Jose Reyes? John Franco? the late Gary Carter? All would seem likely candidates.
As for Gooden and Strawberry, the honor comes to two former ballplayers who have certainly battled their demons over the years, despite immense talent.
ABOUT FREAKING TIME! Congrats to Doc and Darryl. The Mets will finally retire 16 and 18 at Citi Field next season! pic.twitter.com/uAd3zkVdon— The 7 Line (@The7Line) August 24, 2023
Both came up as young phenoms: Strawberry in 1983 as a left-handed slugger with incredible power, and Gooden in 1984 as a right-hander with swing-and-miss stuff that no one could touch.
When Gooden toed the rubber at Shea Stadium in the 1980s, it was an event. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1984, and Cy Young Award winner in 1985. In ’85 he won 24 games – still a Mets record, and posted an ERA of 1.53.
Unfortunately, substance abuse become a huge issue for Gooden. In 1986 after the Mets won the World Series, Gooden didn’t make it to the ceremony in midtown Manhattan due to drugs and alcohol, a story he opened up about years later.
His Mets career ended in 1994 when he was suspended for 60 days for violating his drug aftercare program.
Gooden would revive his career twice with the Yankees, even pitching a perfect game in the Bronx in 1996. He would return to Shea as a Yankee in 2000 in the first game of a double-header — the same double-header that became infamous for Roger Clemens beaning Mike Piazza in the head with a fastball.
As for Strawberry, he was one of the most feared sluggers in the Mets lineup in the 80’s. While the likes of Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter provided finesse in the lineup, Strawberry was the muscle. The eight-time All-Star had 253 home runs for the Mets, before a bitter divorce with the franchise in the early 90’s, when he signed with the Dodgers.
Strawberry would also struggle with substance abuse. He was suspended three times after leaving the Mets and was also arrested for cocaine and pleaded no contest when he was a member of the Yankees.
Strawberry would enjoy something of a second and, even third chance with the Yankees — thanks in major part to owner George Steinbrenner, who always believed in him. Strawberry won three more rings in the Bronx from 1996 through 1999.