On this date in 1984, 19-year-old Dwight Gooden made his major league debut and earned a 3-2 victory over Houston. Gooden gave up a run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. It was his first of 17 victories that year in giving Mets’ fans a glimpse of things to come.
In 31 starts that year, he went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and threw 218 innings with a league-leading 276 strikeouts and 1.073 WHIP.
Gooden exploded into greatness the following season when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA in amassing 276.2 innings over 35 starts, of which 16 were complete games that included eight shutouts.
For the second straight season he lead the league in strikeouts with 268 strikeouts. He would never win 20 games again or lead the league in strikeouts.
Gooden went 17-6 in 1986, the year the Mets beat Boston in the World Series, but there were also signs of upcoming trouble. He didn’t make it past the fifth inning in either of his two starts against the Red Sox in the World Series, and then was a no-show for the victory parade.
Gooden was later arrested in December of that year in Tampa, Fla., for fighting with police. Soon after, reports surfaced of substance abuse and he tested positive for cocaine during spring training. Gooden entered a rehab center, April 1, and did not make his first start until June 5, and won 15 games that season.
Gooden had several more good seasons for the Mets, but never regained his dominance.
After two positive tests for cocaine, Gooden was suspended for the 1995 season.
Gooden’s 11-year Mets’ career ended with him going 157-85. He signed with the Yankees and threw a no-hitter in 1996. He also played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Houston and retired after the 2000 season.