Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, once shunned by the organization that raised them, have officially come full circle. The ultrapopular power pitcher and slugging outfielder will be inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame on Aug. 1.
Joining Gooden and Strawberry, both of whom dealt with substance-abuse problems and spent time in prison, will be Frank Cashen and Davey Johnson — the general manager and manager of the 1986 Mets team that won the World Series with Gooden and Strawberry.
“For me, being inducted, it’s like a homecoming,” Gooden said yesterday in a telephone news conference.
Added Strawberry: “When I look back over it, there were no greater days than being a Met, wearing No. 18 and representing the city in the National League of baseball. This just doesn’t make my day. It makes my year.”
The Mets revived their Hall of Fame after neglecting to make it part of last year’s Citi Field opening and receiving criticism for not honoring their past. The Aug. 1 ceremony, before a game against Arizona, will relaunch the endeavor.
Ten years ago, such an announcement didn’t seem likely. Both Gooden and Strawberry left the Mets in ugly fashion, and both received second chances in New York from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Strawberry picked up three World Series rings with the Yankees, in 1996, 1998 and 1999, and Gooden contributed to the 1996 and 2000 titles.
Strawberry reconciled with the Mets about five years ago, however, and Gooden was touched by the fans’ reaction when he attended the final Shea Stadium game in 2008. Gooden came to some Mets games last year to see his nephew, Gary Sheffield.
And now, both men, while offering gratitude to Steinbrenner, declared their allegiances to the Mets.
“For me, I’ve always been a Met,” Strawberry said. “That’s where I started — being drafted by them, having all of the success in a Met uniform. That has always been home for me.”
The “biggest mistake I ever made,” Strawberry said, was leaving the Mets for the Dodgers as a free agent after the 1990 season.
Gooden left the Mets in the middle of the 1994 season after a failed drug test earned him a suspension. “When I left, I was heartbroken,” Gooden said. “. . . I had let them down, and I wanted to correct the situation I had with the Mets. Deep inside, I was always a Met, and I always will be a Met.”
Gooden is second in wins (157) and strikeouts (1,875) on the team’s all-time list, behind Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Strawberry is still the leader with 252 home runs, 733 RBIs, 662 runs and 469 extra-base hits.
Johnson managed three teams after the Mets fired him in 1990, but he’s best known for exhibiting a bravado that matched his players’ on those mid-1980s Mets teams. “I’m very honored and humbled, and you guys know, it’s not easy to humble me,” Johnson said. “. . . It was fun being part of that team. There was something exciting going on every day.”
Cashen, the Mets’ general manager from 1980-91, said: “I think it’s great for the club to know that is sort of where you can go. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
CLAIMS TO FAME
DARRYL STRAWBERRY: A Met from 1983-90, he is the franchise leader with 252 HRs, 733 RBIs, 662 runs and 469 extra-base hits. Rookie of the Year in 1983 when he hit 26 HRs with 74 RBIs. Hit 27 HRs and drove in 99 runs during the 1986 season. In 1987, hit 39 home runs and stole 36 bases.
DWIGHT GOODEN: Spent 11 seasons as a Met (1984-94). His 157 wins trail only Tom Seaver on team's all-time list. Debuted as a 19-year-old in 1984 when he won 17 games with a rookie-record 276 strikeouts. Best season was 1985, when he led majors in wins (24), strikeouts (268) and ERA (1.53).