Darryl Strawberry to NY Daily News: “I have to try something before he’s dead.”
To the dismay of his former teammate, Dwight Gooden’s struggles with alcohol and drug addiction have persisted to the present day.
Unfortunately for Gooden, the saga of addiction which ran throughout – and ultimately to the conclusion of – his playing days is one that afflicts him a staggering thirty years after the Mets’ World Championship in 1986.
His teammate, slugger Darryl Strawberry, exulted with Gooden when the pair won the title in ’86 with the Mets, and a decade later in pinstripes for the Yankees’ 1996 World Series victory.
Strawberry had his bout with addiction as well, and both his and Gooden’s respective careers were damaged and likely shortened consequently. So, as promising stars of the game, both raveled in mismanagement of the spotlight and fame, Gooden and Strawberry were often cast in a similar narrative.
ESPN illuminated the story of the talented yet troubled pair in its 30 for 30 program, dubbed “Doc and Darryl.” This television appearance, along with other public showings, have been positive signs for Gooden, who is now 51.
That perception is apparently an aberration, as Strawberry believes Gooden has relapsed and continues to struggle with cocaine use.
Strawberry was not vocal on the issue of Gooden’s well-being until an event scheduled for the duo never saw Doc show.
“It’s a real struggle,” Strawberry told WFAN’s Joe Benigno at Thursday’s event. “It’s very difficult to talk about because I know the drill, I know the deal. It’s very sad. It’s hard. ‘Cause even though we weren’t as close, like everybody wanted to make us out to be, he’s a friend. And it’s a very challenging, very difficult time of his life.”
Gooden then denied Strawberry’s implication that he had slipped back into drug problems, calling his former teammate’s concerns “unreal.”
That’s when Strawberry really opened up. On Saturday, he spoke with the New York Daily News’ John Harper. Here are his earnest thoughts:
“He’s a complete junkie-addict. I’ve been trying behind the scenes to talk to him and get him to go for help, but he won’t listen. He thinks he can manipulate and BS his way through everything. His son called me to beg me to help his dad before he dies … The condition Doc is in, it’s bad, it’s horrible. It’s like cocaine poison. I feel like I’ve got to get it out there because nobody else is doing anything to help him, and it might be the only way to stop him.”
With Gooden’s vulnerable position in his mind, and close to his heart, Strawberry is determined to help his ailing friend rise from a place which Darryl himself knows all too well.
Overcoming the familiar demons of drugs and alcohol is a mission Strawberry believes will need attention, and one he is committed to fight with his former teammate.
The two shared inspiring on-field successes in ways which captured the imagination of New York faithful, but the challenge which continues to face Dwight Gooden is one he will face with the help of Darryl Strawberry.
“I have to try something before he’s dead,” Strawberry said.