October of 1986 the New York Mets won the World Series and were riding on the Canyon Of Heroes with then Mayor Ed Koch, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday. The lone person missing that day was the Mets 21-year old phenom, Dwight Gooden. Everyone asked Darryl Strawberry where he was and Strawberry said he went by the house and did not get an answer.
It was later revealed that Dwight had given into his demons the night before and succumb to the deadly drug known as cocaine. For years Gooden had to listen to the bad jokes and was always asked about where did he end up that night. Gooden would laugh on the outside but cry on the inside. It was something that he was always ashamed of.
He felt he let so many people down, especially his mother and father. Dwight has been lucky because he got to play for the Yankees and won two more world championships and got to go to those parades but even that didn’t take away the pain and humiliation of what has broken his heart the past thirty years.
This past year, Dwight lost his beloved mother Ella Mae Gooden probably the closest person to him next to his children, the anchor of his life and the person who no matter how far he had fallen would always be there to pick him up. Two months ago he got into a public and verbal fight with Darryl Strawberry over the possibilities of more drug use.
Things were said that basically hurt both parties, however, if you know the history of these two men, then you know they are truly like brothers who fight, scream and claw at each other, but at the end of the day you know that you love each other and will always be there for one other.
Many people, myself included, hated all the negativity that was going on between these two really good guys. A mutual friend, strongly involved with the media, Amy Heart, has known these two gentleman for quite some time and felt that enough was enough. One way or another, Amy got Doc and Darryl together in the same room and would not let them leave until they had taken care of their differences.
If you really know Doc and Darryl, that was a dangerous act to take because of the type of tempers these guys have, the situation could have backfired and these two could have ended up killing each other. However, true love prevailed and these former New York baseball giants ended up hugging each other.
Amy, being the soul that she is, understood how much missing that parade had beat up on the core of Gooden’s soul. She had a friend of Mayor Bill de Blassio and explained the situation and the next thing you know we were having a ceremony on the steps of City Hall with Dwight, Darryl, and some of his 1986 teammates.
This was the first time that I would meet the Mayor and really appreciated his compassion for Dwight Gooden and his situation. The Mayor looked at and listened to Gooden more like a person who needed a hand as opposed to someone that had been a fallen hero.
There were hundreds of fans in attendance as the Mayor gave Dwight the “Key To The City.” The Mayor introduced all the special guests who were there. He even introduced me as Ray Negron from the other team in New York, and in my own way I was flattered because I was there representing my beloved Yankees. And, Gooden did have some incredible good moments there too.
Mayor De Blassio finally called Gooden to the podium and he got a wonderful ovation from all the fans who were there. Gooden was very honest with the fans about why he didn’t show up that day. He spoke of his pain and mentioned the fact that he was extremely grateful to the Mayor for letting this happen and he was also extremely grateful to Amy Heart for caring enough about Dwight Gooden the person that she would help facilitate this wonderful day for Dwight.
When Gooden broke down and cried at the podium, I knew that those tears were meant for two special ladies that he misses very much. One being Adele Smithers the pioneer of drug recovery who has helped pick Gooden up on many occasions and just recently passed away, and of course his incredible mom who taught Dwight that love would always conquer all.
All in all it was just another nice day in the paradise known as baseball.
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