Monday, December 20, 2010

Topps all-time top 60 card No. 6, Doc Gooden and the 'Streak of Shame'

Dwight Gooden is blessed to have numerous outstanding Topps cards, but there are two that are particularly special, for different reasons.

First is the 1986 base set card, with a photo from the 1985 season when Gooden compiled what can only be described as one of the best pitching performances ever by a Met, going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games and eight shutouts.

This was Gooden when he was all magic and potential, focused and raring back.

But I’m favoring a 1992 Stadium Club card, and Doc isn’t even pitching. He’s rounding third base, about the score the Mets’ eighth run. It’s the bottom of the third, 3:02 p.m. and sweltering hot.

The time and the score are evident from the photo, but I know first-hand about the heat. Will and I were there, watching that game from the Shea press box.

The Mets eventually won that game 9-4, beating the Dodgers and former 1986 Mets heroes Darryl Strawberry and Bob Ojeda.

It would be the last time I’d see the Mets win in person for 17 years, a streak of shame that lasted until an incredible afternoon at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati in 2008.

For a long time, that Stadium Club was more than a great, non-traditional action shot. With my press pass, it was a reminder of an incredible day at Shea – and the last time I thought I’d see the team win a game.

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