In 1986, New York City streets were flooded with over two million Mets fans after the New York Mets won the World Series. However, the star of that 1986 team wasn’t in attendance and wasn’t able to celebrate with the team. Today, that star, Dwight Gooden, finally got the celebration that he thoroughly deserved.
In front of City Hall in Downtown Manhattan, members of the 1986 Mets team greeted “Doc” with hugs and smiles in front of about a hundred Mets fans and reporters. As Gooden, accompanied by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, approached the podium, thunderous applause echoed in the air (notably more than when former Mets reliever Jesse Orosco announced Mayor de Blasio.)
De Blasio took the podium first and addressed the crowd, stating that this was a celebration to one of New York’s best championship teams.
“The 1986 franchise has been known for grit, going through tough times and going back,” said de Blasio. “Tons of talent and character, whenever their backs were against the wall, they found a way to comeback.”
In closing his speech, after many errors and awkward moments from the Red Sox fan, de Blasio handed Gooden with a key to New York City. After receiving the honorable gift from the most powerful man in the city, Gooden took to the podium and humbly stole the show by addressing his growth as a person.
In 1986, the 21-year old hurler seemed to be unstoppable, as he had already won a Cy Young award, a Rookie of the Year award and got selected to three all-star games. All of the greatness surrounding Gooden took a turn, as the young man’s struggle with addiction became attached to his legacy.
Today, Gooden, after being in and out of trouble with the law for the past three decades, took the podium in what was truly a defining moment in his life. This defining moment wasn’t necessarily about “righting the wrong” according to de Blasio but more about his defining moment as a man.
“The 86’ World Series always left a void in my heart,” said Gooden. “Today I can close that wound.” Before ending his thank you speech, Gooden bravely stood open to the media.
“Real quickly before I leave, I would to say, I have to say this because I remember one time I was too embarrassed to say this, but that person isn’t me anymore,” said Gooden as he began to cry. Gooden then mustered up the courage to start talking about how his addiction before his teammates, including former enemy Darryl Strawberry, put their arms around their friend and teammate.
For Gooden, the accolades are great. But, more importantly, his growth is something to be applauded.
“Today, I’m not that person,” concluded Gooden. No, you are not still that person, Dwight, and the world praises you for it.