Pitching great Gooden tells the story of his spectacular baseball career and the loss of it all through a devastating cocaine addiction.
By age 21, Gooden had won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young pitching awards, become the youngest player ever named an All-Star, and pitched on the 1986 Mets World Series winners. Yet, he missed the victory parade for the Series win because of an all-night cocaine binge. So begins this saga, written with the assistance of Newsday columnist Henican (Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior, 2013, etc.), of a brilliant athlete bent on self-destruction. Raised by a loving yet volatile family, Gooden learned to pitch at an early age under the gentle tutelage of his father. But, as a 5-year-old, he witnessed his sister’s husband shoot her five times. Drafted by the Mets at 17, he began a meteoric rise to the big leagues and, eventually, cocaine addiction. For Gooden, cocaine was “love at first sniff.” While he pitched for 16 years, his life was, before and after baseball, constant turmoil: failed drug tests leading to a year’s suspension from baseball, in and out of rehab, multiple arrests ultimately leading to him becoming a fugitive from the police, for which he went to prison. Gooden tells his story straightforwardly and seemingly honestly, and he mixes in entertaining stories of his encounters with baseball luminaries from Pete Rose to George Steinbrenner, who supported and never gave up on Gooden. He talks in detail of his often strained relationship with fellow troubled Met Darryl Strawberry. Gooden finally kicked his habit on the TV show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Now two years straight, he seems to have his life in order, and he emerges in these pages as a good guy who did dumb things.
Better than your average memoir of rise, fall and redemption.