There’s a line in the song “The World Is Yours” off rapper Nas’ classic “Illmatic” album.
“My strength, my son, a star will be my resurrection
Born in correction, all the wrong sh-t I did, he’ll lead in right direction.”
Former Mets pitching legend Dwight Gooden can relate to those words when it comes to his life and his youngest son of six kids, Dylan.
During his MLB career Gooden, aka Dr. Doom, aka Doc, went 194-112 as a starting pitcher for the Mets, Yankees, Indians, Astros and Rays. Gooden is a Black Ace, one of just 15 melanated mound marauders to post a 20-win season.
Gooden burst into the league as a 19-year-old flame-throwing phenom in 1984, helping to propel the Mets above the Yankees as New York’s glamour squad. His story is one of tragedy and triumph, and Doc accomplished a lot in his baseball career, including being a four-time All-Star, two-time World Series Champion, Cy Young Award winner and won multiple championships. He’s also a pitching Triple Crown winner (wins, strikeouts and earned run average), NL Rookie of the Year, MLB wins leader, MLB ERA leader and two-time strikeout leader.
If not for off-the-field troubles that curtailed his meteroric rise, Gooden would have been a shoo-in for Cooperstown induction. Instead, he’s the poster child for any cautionary tale about athletes, money, pressure, drugs and the temptations of city life.
Dylan Gooden Following Dad’s Athletic Background
Dylan Gooden doesn’t throw heat, but he brings it on the football field as a 2023 four-star edge rusher from Olney, Maryland, where he plays for the Our Lady of Good Counsel Falcons. Gooden’s team participates in arguably one of the five best high school football leagues in the country (WCAC). With games annually against the DeMatha Stags, Gonzaga College High School Eagles and St. John’s Cadets, the talent level is formidable.
Gooden showed out in that conference this past season as he led the Falcons to the brink of a championship, coming up just short in the title game to the Cadets. For his efforts, he received his fourth star, making him one of the highest-rated players at his position in the country. He’s the No. 11-rated edge rusher in the nation, and he’s ranked No .2 at his position in the football-rich state of Maryland.
Gooden Will Ball At The Power 5 Level: Schools Covet His Length & Versatility On The Edge
The versatile and Uber athletic Gooden holds offers from 17 Power 5 institutions, including Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Ole Miss, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC, and West Virginia.
Gooden recently tweeted out a list of eight schools who made his final cut.
Texas A&M, Penn State, WVA, Michigan State, Maryland, Notre Dame, Miami, Tennessee all made the list to secure the rising pass rusher/outside linebacker’s commitment.
The Maryland Terrapins Need This Commitment: Can’t Let Talent Like This Out Of The State
With Gooden being a prized recruit located in the state of Maryland, it’s imperative Michael Locksley and the rising Terrapins do everything in their power to keep him in-state. He provides a position of need for a Terps program that has no problem scoring points with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and wide receivers Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus all scheduled to return to College Park for the next few seasons.
Maryland’s glaring weakness has been on the defensive side of the football. The recruitment of Gooden is a moment of truth for Maryland’s ability to compete in the Big Ten.
They just can’t allow conference foes, Penn State and Michigan State to take Gooden. West Virginia is also reportedly very high on Gooden’s list.
Gooden’s strengths are UMD’s weaknesses. Currently at 205 pounds, he could play at 230-240 with ease. He’s a high-level athlete who has fast-twitch muscles. His length and speed off the edge is what intrigues the Power 5 schools. A high motor enables him to track down plays on back side.
The weight room will become his best friend over the next year as he adds bulk to his slender, wiry frame. Speed is his best asset as of now, so the continued development would make him less of a one-trick pony. He’ll have a huge effect on whatever Power 5 program he chooses and has the chance to be an NFL prospect.
“They came out attacking early, and then coupled with my command not being there, not being great tonight, that was the result tonight,” said Gray who struggled for his second start in a row.
Gray is going to have to take his lumps and get acclimated to the Bigs during the final month of his 2021 season.
He had six consecutive starts pitching at least five innings before that streak was snapped in last Monday’s start against the Phillies. The young hurler only lasted four innings and gave up seven runs — six of which were earned— and struck out four.
After going through a few post All-Star Game struggles, “Fly High” Taijuan Walker seemed to be rounding his way back into form after a successful August. However, his first start of September showed otherwise.
He gave up a leadoff home run on a 3-1 pitch. Then, later on that inning Walker would give up a two-run home run to #HighFive member Josh Bell which cut the lead to 4-3.
Bell would finish the game 1-for-2 at the plate drawing two walks and collecting two RBI. Over his last seven games the switch hitting first baseman has a .308 average, a .419 on base percentage, three RBI and five walks.
Walker would settle down as he held the Nats off the scoreboard through four innings but would give up three runs in the fifth inning, including four singles, a wild pitch, and a walk to Josh Bell.
Walker lasted 4.1 innings, giving up the two home runs, striking out six batters and giving up six hits and six runs.
The Mets would end up winning the game 13-6 and took three out of four games against the Nationals.
This recent burst has elevated the Mets to just 3.5 games back of the second National League wild card spot, but time is running out.
Both Walker and Gray will look to bounce back during their starts next weekend.
Gray will lead his Nationals into Pittsburgh for a game against the Pirates while Walker will get another taste of the Subway Series as his Mets take on the Yankees.
Charlie Hustle goes First To Third and runs down the travesty that is Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker’s All-Star snub. The dude should be in Colorado because the Mets would be nowhere without their workhorse.
He’s arguably the team’s MVP, with all due respect to oft-injured Jacob Degrom.
He walked the first batter he faced on four straight pitches and then gave up a home run to the second batter he faced.
So you see, it was one of those nights for Hearn. But that’s the game and it happens. It’s all about how you bounce back from adversity.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward did not waste any time pulling Hearn out of the game.
“He just didn’t have good command,” Woodward told The Dallas Morning News. “He was all over the place.”
Going into the game, Woodward was not expecting Hearn to pitch more than a few innings or even solidify himself as a starter. Hearn only made one other start during his career and that came in 2019. It was his major league debut and he only recorded one out before he was pulled.
So for Hearn, it seems like coming out of the bullpen is more of his thing. But who knows, he may get another opportunity to start during the season and he might have a totally different outing.
June has not been a good month for the 26-year-old on the mound as he finished the month with a 9.58 ERA in seven appearances.
But in May, the 26-year-old was an effective reliever out of the bullpen. He made eight appearances during the month and had one game where he allowed the opposing team to score.
He finished May with a 1.93 ERA through 14 innings of work and picked up two wins. Hearn has a 2-2 record through 23 games and an ERA of 5.75 with 42 strikeouts. He had the streets of Arlington buzzing.
MLBbro.com is always celebrating the exclusive Black Ace fraternity and educating people on exactly what a Black Ace is.
Those conversations — about Black excellence in pitching and the pioneers of the game — always lead back to former Major League Baseball all-star pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who made it his business to chronicle how incredible an accomplishment it is for a Black pitcher to win 20 games.
Grant is the first African-American 20-game winner in the American League (Minnesota Twins, 1965) and the first African-American to win a World Series Game in the American League (1965).
Mudcat passed away on Saturday at the age of 85, leaving MLB with another lost icon.
The entire Minnesota Twins organization is saddened by the death of former pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who passed away at the age of 85. RIP Mudcat. pic.twitter.com/C5I9Bap9Yo
Via thewrap.com,“Grant spent seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians at the start of his pitching career, then got traded to the Minnesota twins in 1964 where he would go on to blossom into an ace pitcher the following season. Grant went 21-7 with a 3.30 ERA. Grant played for the Twins for four seasons and also played for the Oakland A’s, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Grant retired in 1971 with a record of 145-119 and 54 saves.
Grant was born in 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida where he went on to become a two-sport athlete in baseball and football, at Florida A&M.”
What’s A Black Ace?
Mudcat is the leader of an exclusive fraternity that hasn’t had a member enter since 2012, when Price went 20-5 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The book is a historically accurate description of the lives of the thirteen African-American 20-game winners in the Majors that existed when the book was released in 2007.
The 15 Black Aces
Canadian-born Ferguson Jenkins won 20-games or more a remarkable seven times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
Bullet Bob Gibson did it five times (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970)
Dave Stewart did it four times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)
Don Newcombe (1951, 1955 and 1956), and Vida Blue (1971, 1973, 1975) both won 20 or more games three times.
Dontrelle Willis (2005), CC Sabathia (2010), David Price (2012), Al Downing (1971), Dwight Gooden (1985), Sam Jones (1959), Mike Norris (1980), J.R. Richard (1976), Earl Wilson (1967) and of course, Mudcat Grant (1965) all did it once.
Respect Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart is the last Black pitcher to post multiple 20-win seasons. To put this into perspective, in the history of Major League Baseball only five black pitchers have eclipsed the 20 wins mark multiple times in a career.
Two of the five are in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Jenkins, who won more than 250 games in a 14-year career, and Gibson, who did it five times in a span of only six years. Gibson was so unhittable in 1968, that MLB lowered the mound to make it easier for hitters to deal with such Black dominance
Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was the first black pitcher to ever win 20 (1951), and Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics during the 1970s, each reached the achievement three times.
Price and CC are the last of MLB’s Black Aces.
Sabathia went 21-7 with the Yankees in 2010 after signing a huge free agent deal and then leading the Yankees to their first World Series in almost a decade in 2009. Price went 20-5 as the ace workhorse for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012.
With the way pitching philosophy and culture have changed in the past decade, we may never see another Black or Brown 20-game winner again. So we must hold all Black Aces in the highest esteem because it’s one of the rarest achievements in baseball.
We also must remember and cherish the memory of Mudcat Grant, a pioneer who endured and defeated way more than just prolific hitters, in order to secure his legacy.
We can never overlook the racism and the excruciatingly volatile circumstances that these pitchers had to perform under.
Never performing on an even playing field. Always having to be superhuman almost, just to do the simple things that their white counterparts took for granted.
Lighters, glasses, hands up in the air for a true sports icon. RIP Mudcat.