It started off as a path to Cooperstown, but it was not to be for Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. It ends with induction in the Mets Hall of Fame this Sunday at Citi Field.
Strawberry was the 1983 rookie of the year--some dared to compare him to Ted Williams-- and had some great moments for the Mets. He was second in MVP voting in 1988 after hitting 39 home runs and driving in 101. For his career, he had 335 homers and batted .259.
Gooden, rookie of the year in 1984, had one of the best seasons by any pitcher in history when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA in 1985. He was only 20 years old. He was supposed to be Tom Seaver-like, but with an even better fastball. Gooden finished with a career record of 194-112.
We all know what happened along the way with both, how off -field behavior and habits eroded greatness and rendered it less than average.
Two of the best Mets? To be sure. But compared to what could have been, a disappointment. Each will readily admit to that; both have spent years pondering it. Strawberry has tried hard to clean up his act, Gooden remains in a try-fail syndrome.
That will make Sunday's ceremony bittersweet.