Extended transcript: Interview with Dwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets winds up for a pitch during a game against the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium, May 2, 1993 in San Diego, California. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

(CBS News) For New York Mets fans, the World Series-winning team of 1986 represented an unforgettable combination of bravado, vigor and scintillating firepower, perhaps no more invigorating than in the exploits of the young Dwight "Doc" Gooden. The National League's Rookie of the Year in 1984 and the Cy Young Award-winner the following year, Gooden possessed a fastball and a deadly curve that tended to produce strikeouts (earning him the nickname "Doctor K"), and helped lead the Mets to one of their best years ever. He was a star attraction for 10 complete seasons before transitioning to Yankee pinstripes.

But winning a World Series did not inoculate Gooden from the pressures and dangers brought by his addiction to cocaine, even as his teammates were being feted by a ticker tape parade on Broadway.

In this web-exclusive extended transcript of his interview with CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller, Gooden talks about the origin of his nickname; the influence of his father on his sports career; the escape he sought in drugs even as he reached the pinnacle of success; and his long struggle to sobriety, which began with the admission that he is an addict.


Dwight Gooden: My dad had a friend that was a doctor, a real M.D. And for whatever reason, he'll come to my Little League games, high school games, and have a couple drinks. And any time I got two strikes on a batter, he would say, 'Come on, Doc, operate on it, Doc. Come on, Doc, you have another patient, Doc.' And then my teammates started calling me Doc. In high school, it became Doc. And then when they would write stories in the local paper, they'll put "Doc," because the guy was at every game sayin' the same thing.

Dwight Gooden as a young ballplayer in Tampa, Fla.
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Michelle Miller: He must have liked Little League baseball.

Gooden: Yeah, they loved little league baseball. And back then in the '70s and '80s, Little League baseball was very popular, especially in Tampa.

So once I got drafted, everybody has a nickname. They want to call me Goody. I said, 'No, I don't like that.' They said, 'What do they call you back home?' So I said, 'Doc.' So 'Doc' kind of stuck. And once I got to the majors and started getting a lot of strikeouts, they added the K.

Miller: Yeah, 'Doc' is kind of cool. It's rugged. Surgical precision, fast. Lickety-split. That's who you are.

Gooden: I like that. What you just described is me on the field. And now I'm just trying to do that off the field.

Miller: How so?

Gooden: Just mostly with kids, which is basically my passion, touching lives. Obviously, I use baseball for the platform. But once I get their attention, whether speaking in schools, correctional centers or what have you, then I switch to dealing with life on life terms. And I kind of tell my story, how it all happened, how it all unfolded, and how it got back on track.

Miller: I mean, you lived an extraordinary life with some extraordinary circumstances and some unbelievable bad times. How would you describe it?

Gooden: You're right. It's been like a rollercoaster ride. And at times, it was very, very deep. But the thing is I've always believed in myself and tried to battle through it, through the bad side, the dark sides. And I think a lot of times will get me in trouble with tryin' to do it alone. Today I know I don't have to do that alone. And it don't work by doing alone.

Miller: So you wrote this book, 'Doc.' And you don't pull any punches. You're in the prologue laying it all out: 'You'd have to look hard to find another young athlete in any sport who had risen so high so quickly and then fallen so hard. Too much, too fast, too young, my life was spinning wildly, and I was the one who didn't have a clue. . . . As my teammates rode through the Canyon of Heroes [following the Mets' 1986 World Series victory], I was all alone in my bed in Roslyn, Long Island, with the curtains closed and the TV on, missing what should have been the greatest morning of my life. I had never felt so lonely before. I hope I never feel that way again.'

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