A Pair of Champions
#16: Dwight Gooden
Gooden came up in 1984 at the age of 19 and immediately owned New York. With his “Lord Charles” curveball and rising fastball, he struck out 276 batters in 211 innings. The following year, he won the Cy Young award with a 24-4 record and 1.53 ERA. I’m 1986, he won a World Series ring, and that is where everything started turning for the worse.
Drugs affected his life and his effectiveness. Gooden was the youngest pitcher to win 100 games, but in his entire career never won 200. MLB suspended him more than once, and pitched well but was no longer the dominant force he was early on. He went to the Yankees, pitched a no-hitter, but he finished his career with 194 wins.
He also had a falling out with the Mets for a while, however, he has repaired that relationship.
Prediction: As one of the Mets’ best pitchers ever, he should have his number retired, but it won’t due to his drug-related issues.
#17: Keith Hernandez
Keith Hernandez was a St. Louis Cardinal for 9 seasons, winning co-MVP in 1979 and winning a World Series in 1982. Due to accusations of cocaine use, Whitey Herzog, the manager of the Cardinals at that time, was looking to trade Hernandez.
On June 15, 1983, Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey were traded for Keith Hernandez. Keith was going from a championship caliber team to the cellar and cried when he was informed. Frank Cashen, general manager of the Mets back then, spoke to Hernandez that the club had a rebuilt farm system and players such as Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Ron Darling were about to come to the majors. Hernandez decided to stay and sign a five-year contract.
The Mets won 90 games in 1984, 98 games in 1985, and won the World Series in 1986. Also, Gary Carter was acquired before the 1985 season and they would become co-captains of the Mets. After the 1989 season, Hernandez signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians but retired midway through the season due to injuries.
His career numbers are good enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Hernandez was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame in 1997 and is currently a broadcaster for SNY. He is a beloved fan favorite and there is no doubt that his number should be retired by the Mets.