Dwight Gooden calls Mets number retirement ‘surreal,’ looks forward to sharing honor with fans

Aug 27, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; Former Major League Baseball pitcher Dwight Gooden pitches at the New York Mets Old Timers Day game at Citi Field.
Aug 27, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; Former Major League Baseball pitcher Dwight Gooden pitches at the New York Mets Old Timers Day game at Citi Field. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

It was a long time coming for Dwight Gooden. On Thursday, the Mets formally announced he and teammate Darryl Strawberry would have their numbers retired in separate ceremonies next season.

Gooden was a fan-favorite who was one of the most electric and dominant pitchers to ever grace a Mets uniform.

“It was surreal,” Gooden said on SNY’s Baseball Night in NY on getting the call. “You know there's a chance of it happening but when it becomes official it was such a relief.”

Gooden pitched 11 seasons with the Mets, amassing 157 wins (second in franchise history), 1,875 strikeouts (second in franchise history) and a 3.10 ERA.

He was also the leader of the team’s rotation in 1986 when he twirled 12 complete games while posting a 2.84 ERA en route to helping the Mets win the World Series. Those numbers exemplified why fans flocked to see him at Shea Stadium in the 1980s and the right-hander thanked them for being there with him on the mound.

“When I talk to the fans today, I always tell them [the crowd] worked to my advantage,” Gooden explained. “Being on the mound at Shea Stadium any time I got two strikes on a batter the fans would be standing up clapping. So that would basically work to my advantage because I didn't necessarily have to throw a strike though I would throw it close.

“I knew the umpire would call it a strike because if he didn’t the fans would let them hear it and the hitters they didn't want to go down looking so they would swing. So I thank the fans for the success that I had in my career because it was just a tremendous feeling even on days I didn’t have my best stuff. The fans at Shea Stadium brought the best to me each and every time.”

Shea Stadium was especially rocking in 1985 when Gooden recorded one of the best single-season performances by a pitcher in MLB history. He would earn the Triple Crown of pitching, leading the National League in wins (24), ERA (1.53) and strikeouts (268).

He would win the Cy Young Award that year, only one year removed from winning the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Aside from the fans, Gooden credited catcher Gary Carter for his success especially when any pressure mounted during that season.

“Gary Carter played a big role in my success in '85 because Gary demanded the best out of me,” Gooden said. “I didn't care who was up 10 or down 10. He wanted the best out of me. He would get in my face and let me know. … Every game that I pitched he wanted 10-plus strikeouts. He wanted me to pitch a shutout, he wanted me to pitch a complete game and that's what he wanted. So I took on the challenge. I was aware that the crowds were bigger and it was more media attention so I just accepted the challenge and didn’t put any added attention on myself.”

As for what he thinks of his former teammate receiving the same honor? Gooden feels nothing but happiness for Strawberry who the two have been linked their entire careers.

“Darryl is like a brother to me. We've had our ups and downs like any brothers would have but at the end of the day I love him and I'm sure he loves me,” Gooden said. “We've had some of the same struggles, went through a lot of the same similarities, and now we both got our life on the right track… and so now it's about just being ourselves and being the best people we can be off the field. But to have this honor on the field and to share this with the Mets fans and the Mets family is just a tremendous honor. I can't thank Steve and Alex Cohen enough and the committee that made this all possible.

“To share the same opportunity at the same time as Darryl is a tremendous feat and we’re probably closer than ever today than we’ve ever been.”

The dates for both ceremonies will be announced in the coming months.