Found New Respect for “Doc” Gooden
Sometimes in life our role model or people we come to admire do not get that respect and admiration for what they have done on the diamond. Sometimes it comes from actions, reversals of their previous bad intentions to themselves or other, but in the end their true colors find a way to shine bright.
Not everything we do in life is simple, defined or even the right path, and this one former ballplayer definitely fits that bill to a “T”. Kirk Radomski’s was a New York Mets Clubhouse staffer during the beginning and most of this ballplayer up and down career. He saw the talent, the generosity and ultimately the decline of a person who got caught up in a drug whirlwind that he could not escape.
In his novel “Bases Loaded” he revealed early on in the book ( pages 31-33 ) about 2 separate MLB Drug testing incidents where a ballplayer adamantly asked him to take his MLB urine test for him because he feared a positive result. It was the era where ballplayer were beginning to use extra curricular drugs like marijuana and cocaine.
The first instance happened in July 1988 when Dwight Eugene Gooden feared for his career after testing positive previously. Gooden approached Radomski shaking and told Radomski, “The pee guy’s here and I can’t pee. I went out with a couple of guys the other night, and if they test me, I’m going to get suspended”.
Randomize fashioned a plan that was executed perfectly to get a positive test result for Wooden. Then again two weeks later, Gooden again asked for another favor. Again the result came back positive since Randomize did not partake in after hours recreational drugs and no traces of any substance was found in Gooden’s test sample.
Finally when asked a third time for help, Randomize had to bring the “tough love” and refused to help Gooden. He was suspended Radomski asked Gooden to consult then New York Mets Team Substance Abuse Counselor Dr Alan Lans. It was a solid action by Radomski, and possibly by Gooden finally being “outed” and found with traces in his system, the mending process could begin.
It has been a long time since that period in 1986, and Wooden has had an on and off again battle with the demon that first took some of his brilliant career away from him in Flushing, New York. His oldest son, Dwight Gooden Jr was also born in 1986 in this same time of turmoil.
Not until recently when watching VH-1’s “Celebrity Rehab 5 ”, where Gooden is a patient did I hear of the idea Gooden had for his son and himself, and it broke my heart. Gooden wanted to hang on in baseball until his son came of age and got drafted, and wanted to play on the same team with him before finally retiring.
Instead they both spent time at Orient Jail in Hillsbough County (Tampa, Florida), Dwight Jr for a drug trafficking charge, and Dwight Sr for DUI and driving on a suspended license. No baseball field for them to play on, and only orange jumpsuits for uniforms.
It takes courage, a drive and a straight forward conviction to take on your demons and drive them from your life. In this episode of “Celebrity Rehab”, both father and son came together and finally began to repair that bond between the parent and their child. So many other families go through this same scenario daily, in this instance, father and son embraced and promised to be each other’s guide.
Finally facing the guilt, shame and remorse of not being their for your children is a giant burden for anyone to hold, much less a man who once held the Big Apple firmly within his pitching hand.
When I saw that bonding moment between father and son, I found a new respect, admiration and want for Gooden to defeat this demon just like he did on a pitching mound so many times before. I have Gooden’s autobiography “Heat” on a shelf in my home, and will take it down and begin reading it this week during my trip, hoping to get to know this alter-self of Gooden.
Our heroes, champions of right and wrong and people do defeat the odds are what pulls us to players like Gooden. His struggles are not our own, but we empathize, want to give a hand or even guide them after they admit their shortcomings.
Everyone knows and addict has to live life “One day at a time”, and a slip, fall from grace or even a full blow episode is just a bad decision away. But I heard something different in Gooden’s voice on the show. Along with the heartfelt letter he wrote out to his kids telling them how he he has apologizing to his kids for “basically divorcing you guys for drugs,” the healing was started.
Some people look forward to a players fall from grace, providing a defining moment of bad judgment or consequences that makes them human. Other like myself want to extend a hand, give a friendly pat on the back or claim admiration for someone who once made us cry by his actions on the field, and humble us by his admittance of his past and present faults.
I wish you sobriety, courage and a continued positive life affirming results to a man who was born in Tampa Bay. Know there are hundreds beside myself you also wish and pray this same sentiment for you. Go get ’em Doc!