The Vault

August 29, 2010

Every SI Story ... Every SI Photo ... Ever SI.COM/VAULT

EXCERPT | September 2, 1985

Calling Dr. K

Twenty-year-old Dwight Gooden got his 20th win

In his second season Gooden, who wouldn't turn 21 until November, was already the best pitcher in the game, throwing both the hardest curveball (80 mph) and fastball (96) in the majors. Craig Neff reported for SI.

Shea Stadium was a sea of cardboard K's: black ones, red ones, green ones, orange ones, some held aloft, others hung from upper-deck railings. There were cloth K's, too, and K's drawn on blank sheets of paper. Shea didn't have enough nooks and crannies for all the K's that greeted the appearance of Dwight (Dr. K) Gooden on a gala night last week.

Gooden had struck out 11 San Francisco Giants in the first five innings and was coasting on a 3--0 lead. In his next start, on Sunday, the Mets' 20-year-old ace would become the youngest 20-game winner in modern history, striking out four batters and allowing two earned runs before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning of a 9--3 victory over the Padres. It was his 14th win in a row and left him with a 1.78 ERA and 212 strikeouts, both best in the majors.

But such was the fans' hunger for strikeouts on this night that they actually booed Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez and leftfielder George Foster for catching two-strike foul pops in the seventh and eighth innings. Gooden fanned five more Giants to complete a seven-hit shutout. His 16 strikeouts established a 1985 major league high, and by putting his season's total over 200 he became only the second player in baseball history to reach that milestone in each of his first two major league seasons.

Gooden finished 24--4 and won the NL Cy Young Award. Beset by personal demons, he never regained his '85 form, retiring in 2000 with 194 wins.

SI.COM | Breaking News | Real-time Scores | Daily Analysis

MLB

NBA

NFL

NHL

College Football

SI Videos

Big 12 Favorites?

Can defensive tackle Jared Crick(above) and the ferocious Blackshirts put Nebraska in position to contend for the Big 12 title? This week SI.com takes an in-depth look at the Big 12 Conference and breaks down why both Texas and Oklahoma should be wary of the Cornhuskers, who are in their last season before they move to the Big Ten. You can also watch as many as 70 more videos each week, including Inside Report hosted by Maggie Gray, daily breakdowns from NFL training camps and interviews from The Dan Patrick Show.

PHOTOPhotograph by JERRY WACHTERLOADED GUN Few pitchers have ever been better than Gooden in '85, when he led the majors in wins (24), ERA (1.53) and strikeouts (268), and the NL in complete games (16) and innings (2762/3). PHOTOJERRY COOKE PHOTOART SHAY PHOTOV.J. LOVERO (LEFT) AND JIM GUND PHOTOBRAD SCHLOSS/ICON SMI (CRICK) PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (KOLB) PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (PRYOR) PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (JOHNSON) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (FAVRE) PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH (ANTHONY) PHOTOSIMON BRUTY (CLEMENS)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)