Gooden – Older, Wiser – Returns to Place of His Triumphs

Published on: 1st October, 2008

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*Sep 28 - 00:05*
Gooden - Older, Wiser - Returns to Place of His Triumphs

New York Mets vs Florida Marlins. Final regular season game at Shea Stadium. Mets lose to the Florida Marlins 4-2 in final game at Shea Stadium. Former Teamates Dwight Gooden (left) and Darryl Strawberry greet each other at midfield. Original Filename: _HS12758m9.jpg  | read this item

Dwight Gooden wasn’t going to miss saying farewell to Shea Stadium for anything in the world. Sunday he returned to Flushing for the first time since pitching for the Yankees during the 2000 season.

“No matter what, I had to be back here because I hadn’t been here for a while and this was home,” Gooden said. “I missed the place, missed the fans and all the support they have given me, so this is a great opportunity for me to just come back and say thanks. This is where my career started and it’s been a while since I came here in 2000 (and) since I played here in 1994. Today was all about the fans and being back here at Shea.”

Rain-soaked Mets fans outside of Gate A in left field Sunday waited to greet Gooden – the 1984 National League Rookie of the Year, 1985 Cy Young winner and ace of the championship staff in 1986 – as he walked the red carpet alongside Tom Seaver in a pregame ceremony.

Gooden was touched by the fans’ response.

“You get goose bumps all over just seeing that,” Gooden said. “You try to look forward to what may happen and (have) expectations, but once you’re actually in it, it’s a great feeling. It’s very heartwarming to see that the fans still support you and that they still care. I wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

Although fans have always showed love to Gooden, Mets ownership reached a breaking point with the righthander after a cocaine-related suspension in 1994, his second such run-in with the drug. Gooden wound up sitting out the 1995 season and signing with the Yankees the next year, then pitched a no-hitter on May 14, 1996, against the Mariners.

Heading into Shea Sunday, Gooden couldn’t help but reminisce on the good times he had with the Mets, especially the lasting image of Jesse Orosco on his knees in euphoria after their World Series victory over the Red Sox in 1986. It seemed like just Sunday to Gooden that he was a rookie in the majors.

“Coming in in 1984 and just the way everything happened, sometimes you still look at yourself with all those memories that I just had walking into the stadium today,” Gooden said. “I had some great memories here, great teammates, ownership was great. Everything has worked out fine for me.”

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