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The New York Mets were the talk of the Big Apple in the mid-1980s thanks to Dwight "Doc" Gooden, a flame-throwing phenomenon. By his second season, the 20-year-old was anointed baseball's next great thing. Undisciplined away from the mound, Gooden was introduced to cocaine, a habit that led to a quick unraveling. He actually missed the 1986 World Series parade because he was hungover from a booze and cocaine binge. "My only romance was cocaine," Gooden writes. "And the deeper I got into the addiction, it was becoming more of a job than a fling." A walking tabloid headline by the late 2000s, Gooden eventually turned a New Jersey hotel room into his own private drug den before getting help from an unlikely source: TV's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Gooden says he has been sober for over two years: "It's a tough, relentless battle that I'm facing. But I am as well-armed as I can be." That directness, rarely seen in athlete-penned memoirs, distinguishes this book. It feels like Gooden is baring his soul out of necessity, not trying to accumulate PR points, though he could use some: he was hit with a restraining order in New Jersey last month after threatening his estranged wife. Photos not seen by PW. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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"Doc" Gooden was a greatly heralded New York Mets pitcher who swiftly slid from superstardom, with his likeness on a huge Times Square billboard, to poster child for athletes who threw it all away: Rookie of the Year in 1984, Cy Young winner in 1985, World Series champion in 1986, debut in drug rehab in 1987. There followed a 20-year pattern of rehab and relapse, punctuated with promises, rationalizations, and lies. Gooden dealt with much of this in his 1999 autobiography (with Bob Klapisch), Heat: My Life on and off the Diamond. His present offering, with Henican (columnist, Newsday), covers the early years once again, then updates his struggles with substance abuse and his ensuing marital difficulties and troubles with the law, including prison time, before leaving readers with a happy ending: two years of sobriety. But there is a postscript: after the book went to press, accounts appeared disclosing that Gooden's wife was granted a temporary restraining order against him. They are getting divorced. VERDICT This book will appeal to baseball fans and students of the human condition, both of whom will wish for that happy ending but know that it is not guaranteed.-Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Dwight Doc Gooden debuted with the New York Mets in 1984 as a 19-year-old. It was breathtaking. That first season he won 17 games, lost just 9, and struck out 276 batters in just 218 innings. In his second year he was 24-4 and won the Cy Young Award as the National League's best pitcher. In 1986, he led the Mets to a World Series title. But by then, Gooden's world was busting apart. He was both an alcoholic and a cocaine addict. When the Mets had their parade to celebrate the series win, Gooden was alone in a dingy hotel room trying to straighten up after a bender. He went on to win 194 games but most came before he was 29. The drugs diminished what may have been an all-time great career. In his memoir, Gooden reveals a childhood marked by violence. But there was also love. Gooden learned to play baseball from his dad, who would spend endless hours with his son in Tampa's parks. But once Gooden discovered cocaine, his life became an endless cycle of rehab, denial, and addiction. Amazingly, the rehab that seems to have succeeded was the reality television show in which second-rate celebrities are the focus. Gooden has been clean for a couple years now and works with others battling substance abuse. A harrowing cautionary tale.--Lukowsky, Wes Copyright 2010 Booklist