Runner up: Tom Seaver (1971), 1.76

Gooden's 1985 season was one of the most dominant in Major League history. Since 1919, only Bob Gibson pitched to a lower single-season ERA (1.12 in 1968). In addition to his MLB-best ERA, Gooden led the majors with 24 wins and 268 strikeouts and led the NL with 16 complete games in '85. And he was just 20 years old.

Credit: Paul J. Bereswill

Here are excerpts ESPN sent of the "E:60" segment Wednesday night in which Dwight Gooden discusses the events of late October, 1986, with Jeremy Schaap (Cornell '91).

(The part in bold was highlighted by ESPN, not me.)

Jeremy Schaap:“When did you first try cocaine?”

Dwight Gooden:“The first time I tried cocaine was ’86. During the season of ’86 in New York in the city in a club and had been drinking a lot, had girls involved, and they said hey try this here and we’ll all go back and have a good time. I used to always tell myself I’d never do it. I said ah a little bit won’t hurt. And it was love at first sight unfortunately.”

JS:“I think we’re focusing on ’86 and so I did want to ask you because you had mentioned this before, what happened with the Ticker Tape Parade?”

DG:  “Parade. Um after that game was over, we’re celebrating and everything at the ballpark in the clubhouse and me and some of the guys went back out on the pitcher’s mound and we had the big bottles of champagne. Called my dad, called everyone at home… then once everybody said we’re going to this club in Long Island to hang out for a while it was like okay… well my ride to the club I called a guy who I got drugs from, had him meet me there, was drinking, started using drugs. Then when the party started winding down for myself a lot of times I get to a certain point of using drugs the paranoia sticks in. So I end up leaving the party with the team, going to these projects of all places in Long Island. Hang out there. Then you know what time you have to be at the ballpark to go into the city for the parade but I’m thinking okay I got time. And the clocks I mean the rooms are spinning. I said okay I’ll leave in another hour. Okay maybe in 30 minutes I’ll leave. Well maybe 15 more minutes I’ll leave. Then the next thing you know the parades on and I’m watching the parade on TV.  I mean… horrible horrible feeling. And then everything just got worse from there I went back home that offseason. But the missed parade you only got one shot to do that. I got to do it with the Yankees but, here you are with the Mets first win in New York in 86. Guys who I mean spend more time with those players than you do with your family, and guys fight for each other, but not being there to share that moment with the fans, you can’t redo that. And that was one of the things that part of the guilt and shame as well I went through.”

JS:  “What did you say had happened at the time?”

DG:“At the time I said I overslept. Cause I was totally in denial. Totally in denial. I didn’t wanna face the problem head on.”

JS:“And even after that you didn’t think you had a problem?

DG:“Still didn’t wanna believe that I had a problem. And it was pretty obvious, at that point. But I still I said no I don’t have a problem, I’m okay. And then when I got home from the offseason, just missing the parade and then re-seeing on ESPN or their showing the parade and you’re not there… there’s fans holding signs up and you see you some signs thank you Doc they’re saying and Doc’s not there. I mean to relive that. And you don’t get a chance to do that again. That was it.”

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