DWIGHT GOODEN NO
HITTER, May 14, 1996
On October 16, 1995, Dwight Gooden was signed by
the New York Yankees. His days of glory in New York City baseball
pitching with the Mets were behind him. Drugs and alcohol had made the
man they had called Doctor K" pay a price.
The 1996 season was more of the same for Gooden, failure. George
Steinbrenner had claimed that the 31-year-old hurler could win 15 games.
Struggling to win one. Gooden was sent to the Yankee bullpen with an 0-3
record and an 11.48 ERA. "I've just got to keep working on my
mechanics," the Doc said. "It's complete frustration more than anything
A depleted Yankee pitching staff brought Gooden back to center stage. He
was rushed into the rotation on April 27. There were six strong innings
hurled against the Twins, a half dozen shutout innings over the White
Sox. Then Gooden notched his first victory since June 19, 1994. It was a
gem against the Tigers, the final 20 batters were retired in a row.
On Tuesday night, May 14, 1996, Dwight Gooden, his father in the
hospital in Tampa slated for next day double bypass surgery, took the
mound against Seattle.
As the Mariners came to bat in the ninth inning, most of the 20,786
fans, hoarse from screaming inning after inning, were edgy, standing up.
Gooden had thrown more than a hundred pitches and was going on grit now.
The Mariners managed to get runners on first and second base. "It was
Dwight's game all the way." said Joe Torre. A wild pitch to the
dangerous Jay Buhner moved the runners to second and third with one out.
Gooden reared back and fanned Buhner. Two out.
Gooden's 135th pitch of the game was a swerving curve to Paul Sorrento,
a high pop to Jeter - - no-hitter! Yankee Stadium rocked! Gooden was
carried off the field on the shoulders of his Yankee teammates.
"This is the greatest feeling of my life," he said. "I never thought I
could do this, not in my wildest dreams. A year and a half ago I thought
I had pitched my last game, so being able not only to make it back but
to throw a no-hitter, that's been an incredible blessing for me."
It was the eighth regular-season no-hitter by a Yankee hurler. For
Dwight Gooden that performance ended a streak of 23 months without a
major-league victory and saw him rebound from an 0-3 start to win 11 of
next 13 decisions.
# # #
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Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
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