Gooden faces multiple charges in crash

Updated: March 25, 2010, 9:58 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. -- Former Major League Baseball star Dwight Gooden has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs and leaving the scene of an accident.

The former pitcher for the New York Mets and New York Yankees had his child in his vehicle at the time of the two-vehicle crash around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Franklin Lakes police Capt. Joseph Seltenrich said.

Gooden was taking his 5-year-old son, Dylan, to school, according to multiple media reports. Police said no one was hurt.

Dwight Gooden

Gooden

Gooden also was charged with child endangerment and motor vehicle violations, authorities said. They wouldn't release details, including the type of drugs.

Gooden, 45, was released on his own recognizance until a municipal court hearing. It was unclear whether Gooden, who has waged a well-publicized battle with alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, had an attorney.

The driver of the other car, Ronald Schmidt, of Franklin Lakes, said he recognized Gooden right away.

"I looked at him, and I knew it was Dwight Gooden," Schmidt told WABC-TV in New York. "I think he was surprised I recognized him, [and] he shook my hand."

Gooden, nicknamed Doc Gooden and Dr. K because of his phenomenal strikeout numbers early in his career, had served as a senior vice president with the minor league Newark Bears baseball team, which plays in the independent Atlantic League. But he left in November 2009 when the Mets invited him to join them at spring training, an offer he ultimately turned down.

"He did great things while he was here," said Tom Cetnar, the Bears' senior vice president. "We're very saddened by the reports we're hearing. We don't have any details on what happened. Doc did right by us and the city of Newark."

Mets spokesman Jay Horowitz said the team "was aware of the situation," but he declined to comment further.

The New York Daily News reported that according to a Mets team source, the club will not change its plans to induct Gooden into the team's Hall of Fame on Aug. 1, along with Darryl Strawberry, Davey Johnson and former Mets general manager Frank Cashen.

Gooden's dominant pitching helped lead the Mets to a World Series title in 1986 and another National League East crown in '88, and he also was a member of the championship Yankees teams of 1996 and 2000. After making his major league debut in 1984 at the age of 19, he went on to win the Rookie of the Year award that season and eventually won 194 games over his 17-year career, which included a no-hitter for the Yankees in 1996.

Two of Gooden's teammates from those glory years offered hope and concern for him.

"I pray for Doc and his family that he gets it figured out," said Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson, who played third base behind Gooden for the Mets, according to the Daily News. "This is really too bad. I really thought he was back on track."

"This is very sad because I care about Doc and I worry about him," added former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez, now a team broadcaster, according to the report.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who played with Gooden and caught his no-hitter, said he hoped everything was OK with his former teammate.

"Your heart goes out to him," Girardi said in Tampa, Fla. "He was a great teammate. Doc and I will always be linked in a sense, played on championship teams and a no-hitter together."

But drugs and legal troubles derailed his career and continued after his retirement in 2001. He was arrested several times and repeatedly entered rehabilitation facilities.

Besides the two New York teams, Gooden also pitched for Cleveland, Houston and Tampa Bay.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.