It was a story that John Harper didn’t want to write, but it was one that he had to.
It appears that Doc Gooden’s demons have resurfaced, and the former Cy Young winner and three-time World Series champion has stumbled once again into the abyss of drug addiction.
“It’s a sad story,” Harper, a New York Daily News reporter, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I’ve known the guy forever, it seems like. Going back to the ’80s, he was the best young pitcher in baseball. He destroyed his career with the drugs, and now it seems like he’s destroying his life. You only have to see the pictures of him. He just looks – I hate to say it because I have a good relationship with him. That’s why it was hard to write it. But I think (Darryl) Strawberry has his best interest in mind. He’s tried to get him help, it hasn’t worked, so now he’s decided to go public with it. He’s calling the guy a junkie. He’s trying to shame him into getting help at this point. Doc responded with more denials and fired back at Darryl, so I don’t know what it’s going to take. But even his adult children released a statement kind of acknowledging that there’s something going on here. Everybody is trying to make him realize, but as Strawberry tells me all the time – and he seems to have overcome his problem – he said he’s got to learn it. You can’t force him, but he’s trying to force him to at least look himself in the mirror and realize he has a problem.”
Gooden, 51, is apparently locking himself in his bedroom or bathroom – for days at a time – and using cocaine. When he finally emerges, it’s often only to yell at people.
“That, to me, was really shocking,” Harper said. “I had never seen that side of him. He’s always been a guy that seemed to have a great heart – and he does have a great heart. But we ran a letter from his former girlfriend that she wrote to Gooden. She, in the letter, explained how he turns into a different person when he’s doing cocaine. She said it, too. He’ll lock himself in the bedroom or the bathroom for days at a time, which is unfathomable.”
Harper received this information from a reliable source extremely close to Gooden.
“This guy, he wouldn’t let me use his name, but I trust him,” he said. “I know him. He has business relationships he needed to protect. But he was picking up Gooden to go to this appearance. When Doc didn’t show up, that’s what started all this. So he was there to pick him up, they let him into the apartment, three of Doc’s adult children were in the apartment, and Doc had locked himself in the bedroom. People around him believe that when he does this, that’s when he’s doing coke.”
The source tried – to no avail – to convince Gooden to open the door. Once Gooden didn’t show up for the appearance, Strawberry knew something was wrong.
“That’s what set all of this in motion,” Harper said. “Darryl expressed concern for him. Darryl’s an addict who’s been through this and recovered. As he said to me, ‘I got to try to do something before this guy’s dead.’”