Dwight Gooden’s jersey retirement made all the more special with Darryl Strawberry in attendance

Darryl Strawberry Dwight Gooden Mets
Photo: Joe Pantorno/AMNY

QUEENS, N.Y. — Much to the delight and surprise of Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry managed to make the trip to Queens to see his good friend’s jersey number retirement on Sunday afternoon.

“I didn’t know until I saw him today,” Gooden said of Strawberry’s arrival. “We’ve texted each other, we’ve talked, but I didn’t know he was going to be here today.”

Strawberry’s status was up in the air for Sunday after suffering a heart attack on March 11, just one day before his 62nd birthday. He was released from the hospital five days later and worked his way up to making the trip from Missouri.

“We all talked to him at some point and he said, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it. I’ll have to see what happens,'” Gooden and Strawberry’s former teammate and Mets great, Jesse Orosco told amNewYork. “Lo and behold, he’s here… it’s a surreal moment.”

Gooden and Strawberry were two of the most prominent faces of the Mets’ revolution in the first half of the 1980s — the two star prospects becoming key players for a franchise that blasted its way out of the doldrums of the late 1970s and won a World Series title in 1986.

Both superstars — Gooden a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher and Strawberry a generational slugger — reached the top of the mountain in Queens, but also experienced swift and dramatic falls from grace due to off-field issues stemming from substance abuse.

It led to the disintegration of an inseparable relationship that has slowly but surely healed over the years. While Gooden has been sober for the better part of the last five years, Strawberry is an ordained minister.

“It’s good to see Darryl. It’ll always be Darryl and Doc, Doc and Darryl,” Gooden said. “We’ll always be connected. To see Darryl, I’m just as happy for him, the things he’s accomplished in his life as a man, what he has going on at his ministry, I’m very proud of him.

“Obviously, we’ve had ups and downs but when you’re close, you have those things. But we’re closer now. To see Darryl, I was very happy… it brought joy to me that he took the opportunity to make it here today and enjoy this day with me as well.”

Dwight Gooden Mets jersey retirement
Dwight Gooden during his jersey retirement ceremony (Lloyd Mitchell/AMNY)

Strawberry was not up to speaking in any public capacity on Sunday, but his presence alone appeared to be the bow on top of a memorable day for Gooden, who was also accompanied by former teammates such as Orosco, Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson, and Tim Teufel.

“It’s important for more than one reason. No. 1 is that he’s healthy,” Wilson told amNewYork. “I’m just so happy to see him here because we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to travel. That’s the most important thing right now, his health.

“The other reason is we knew the relationship that Darryl and Doc had over the years. They had that good on-and-off type of thing. As we know, most of it has been resolved and it’s behind them… But to have him put forth the effort today to be here, it shows that they are right where they need to be.”

For more on Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and the Mets, visit AMNY.com

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