Doc Forever: Mets Retire Doc Gooden’s Iconic No. 16

Doc Forever: Mets Retire Doc Gooden’s Iconic No. 16

The fans always stuck with me through everything. I always wanted to come back here.”

-Dwight Gooden during his number retirement ceremony.




CITI FIELD– When Dwight “Doc” Gooden got a call from New York Met owner Steve Cohen over the winter, he initially thought it was one of his former teammates pulling a prank on him.


When Gooden was able to confirm it was Cohen, the owner let him know that the franchise was going to retire his No. 16 along with his teammate Darryl Strawberry for the upcoming 2024 season. For Gooden, Sunday’s ceremony finally brought his career in full circle. 


Doc Gooden Is A NY Mets Legend


The 59-year old native of Tampa, Florida played for the Mets from 1984-94, winning the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1985 NL Cy Young Award. He went 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA and 2,293 strikeouts in 16 seasons, including 157-85 with a 3.10 ERA with 1,875 strikeouts for the Mets.


He helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series title but his career was interrupted by substance abuse. He was suspended from June 1994 through the 1995 season and then signed with the Yankees.


Dwight Gooden Throws No-Hitter With Yankees


Gooden and Strawberry also reunited in the Bronx during the 1996 season. Doc would pitch the lone no-hitter of his career on May 14th when he blanked the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium.


With his father less than 24 hours away from undergoing heart surgery in Tampa, Gooden took the mound in the Bronx and held the Mariners’ potent offense to six walks and no hits. He was part of a rotation that eventually helped the Yankees win the World Series.


Gooden spent seven months in prison in 2006 and was arrested several times for DUI but has been clean since 2019. He regularly speaks at New York-area schools about avoiding drugs and alcohol and is also a staple at autograph shows.


“I wanted to stay to make things right with you guys. I didn’t want to leave on the note that I did,” Gooden told the fans, “Unfortunately, they thought it was best that we go separate ways. I was lucky enough to stay in New York, play with the New York Yankees for two years, ’96 and ’97.”


The Citi Field crowd booed the mention of the Mets’ crosstown rival, and Gooden shook his head while putting his left hand over his heart. “I’m always a Met. I’m not saying nothing. I’m always a Met. I’m always a Met,” he said.


When speaking about his late father at the pre-game news conference, Gooden became emotional and stated he wished that he could have been there to see it. “It was my dad’s dream at first, for me to pitch in the big leagues,” he said. 


“Eventually, it became my dream as well. I know he and my mom would have enjoyed this day.”


Dwight Gooden’s Nephew Gary Sheffield Were Inspired By Dwight’s Dad


Gooden’s nephew, former All-Star Gary Sheffield, explained that Doc knew exactly what this day would have meant to his dad. “His dad used to tell both of us that you haven’t done anything just by making it to the big leagues,” Sheffield said. 


Gooden and Sheffield came from a talented sports neighborhood that would produce several other Major Leaguers including All-Star slugger Fred McGriff and pitcher Floyd Youmans, who was briefly a teammate of Gooden’s in New York.


“It’s the mark you make and how you finish. That became more complicated for Doc and our whole family, with everything he went through off the field. We all did what we could for him because we wanted to see him through to the finish line. That’s what this day is for him. He made it.”


During Doc’s tenure in the Big Apple, Gooden won a Rookie of the Year Award. Three Top 5 Cy Young Award finishes, including one win. Multiple World Series championships. And of course, the 1985 season that remains, by some measures, the greatest in modern history.



For some perspective: When Bob Gibson produced a 1.12 ERA in 1968, MLB lowered the mound 10 inches the following year and shrunk the strike zone to its modern size. The league had, quite literally, leveled the playing field. And it stayed mostly level until Gooden produced a 1.53 ERA in 1985. 


No one has matched that figure since. “At his best,” Sheffield added, “he was the greatest pitcher that ever lived.”


Doc Gooden Joins Pantheon Of Iconic Mets 


Gooden’s No. 16 joins 14 (Gil Hodges, 1973), 17 (Keith Hernandez, 2022), 24 (Willie Mays, 2022), 31 (Mike Piazza, 2016), 36 (Jerry Koosman, 2021), 37 (Casey Stengel, 1965) and 41 (Tom Seaver, 1988) as the franchise’s retired numbers.


Seven of Gooden’s children were in attendance, plus many more grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 13 of his former Mets teammates were also there, including Strawberry, who has been recovering from a heart attack in St. Louis.


MLBbro Legend Doc Gooden’s Son Dylan Signs With Maryland Football | Four-Star Edge Rusher Continues Family Sports Legacy


Later this year, Strawberry will become the seventh player to have his number retired. His No. 18 will be immortalized by the franchise on June 1st.