Posted on August 22, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Former major leaguer Darryl Strawberry is reaching out to friends, the media, and anyone else he believes can help former teammate Dwight Gooden, who Strawberry believes is in grave danger due to his drug addiction. Strawberry’s recent concern for Gooden comes after the two were scheduled to make a public appearance together last Thursday that Gooden never showed up for.
The baseball world became reacquainted with Strawberry and Gooden last month when ESPN aired the documentary Doc & Darryl. The documentary told the story Strawberry and Gooden, who were once two of the brightest young stars in the game, helping lead the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title, only to have their promising careers derailed by issues related to drug addiction. The documentary also included Strawberry and Gooden sitting down in a diner and having a candid conversation about their past, their battles with drug addiction, and the current state of their friendship.
“I’m worried. A lot,” Strawberry said after Gooden failed to show up for their public appearance on Thursday. “I know addiction — my fear is people that don’t change, they die. They die this way. I just hope the light comes on soon before it’s too late.” Strawberry’s concern for Gooden then prompted him to reach out to writer John Harper of the New York Daily News, hoping to get word out to Gooden or somebody who may be able to help him. “I have to try something before he’s dead,” Strawberry told Harper.
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Via text message, Gooden told Harper that what Strawberry was saying about his problems with addiction are “unreal.” Gooden also told Harper: “I am fine, just finishing up some minor health issues.”
However, Strawberry does not believe Gooden when he says he’s fine. “He’s a complete junkie-addict,” Strawberry told Harper. “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.”
Strawberry also gave Harper the name of three people close to Gooden. After speaking with all three, Harper says they each “painted a similarly dark scenario” about Gooden’s condition. One of the three people was Gooden’s former girlfriend, Janice Roots, who says she “felt hopeless to do anything” to stop Gooden’s downward spiral in drug addiction.
One of the other people who spoke to Harper and wished to remain anonymous said they were with Gooden Thursday when he missed his public appearance with Strawberry. The friend says that night Gooden locked himself in a bathroom, refusing to come out despite appeals from his three children.
On Sunday night, Gooden’s son, Dwight Gooden Jr., issued a statement in which he mentioned the stress his father has been under over the past year, particularly with regard to the failing health and eventual death of Gooden Sr.’s mother. The statement concludes: “We, as a family, are currently planning his best course of action and thank you all for your concern, messages and prayers.”
Amidst Strawberry’s concern and efforts to rally people around Gooden in order to help him, the baseball world is holding its breath in hopes that Gooden can get the help he needs before it’s too late. Those of us watching from a distance can only wait and hope that Gooden’s story doesn’t include one more tragic twist.