Dwight Gooden

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METSellaneous — Joey Wahler On The Mets: Ex-Teammates Strawberry, Lyons Want To Save Gooden

July 17, 2019 - 5:32 pm
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By Joey Wahler

The rift between Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry appears over, with Straw visiting his ex-teammate yesterday in New Jersey, offering help since news broke of the one-time Cy Young Award winner’s latest addiction setback, according to former Mets backup catcher, Barry Lyons.

“I spoke at length with Doc yesterday, and with Darryl Strawberry,” Lyons exclusively told METSellaneous by phone from his native Biloxi, Miss. A teammate of Gooden and Strawberry from 1986-’90, Lyons says he remains friends with both.

“We have presented a plan, and an opportunity, and an option for Doc to go to the Christian Addiction Recovery facility that I went through seven and a half years ago,” Lyons said.

Last month, Gooden was stopped by police while driving in Holmdel, N.J., charged with driving under the influence, and possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Like Strawberry, Lyons is a recovering addict who says he’s been sober for over seven years, so both relate first-hand to Gooden’s repeated relapses during a sad saga dating more than three decades old.

“Doc told me yesterday, ‘Barry, I’m tired. I’m tired,’” Lyons said. “I said, ‘Doc, that’s what it takes. You’ve got to be at the end of the rope. You got to be at the bottom before you can get well. You’ve got to be broken. And I think he’s broken to the point where he’s tired, he’s embarrassed, he’s hurting.

“He declared that he was going to talk to his family. And I have every intention of reaching back out to Doc again today, and to Darryl. Darryl was with him for a couple hours yesterday. Darryl and I stay in touch quite a bit. He was one of the key figures in me seeing what a new life can look like.”

Indeed, Strawberry finally overcame his own addiction issues, founding Strawberry Ministries with his wife, Tracy, preaching faith based recovery. Lyons similarly helps others, and says Straw has supported those efforts in Mississippi. Now both want Gooden in a 90-day, residential program, Lyons says.

“The minute I found out about this latest incident with his arrest, I texted him and asked him if he was OK,” Lyons said. “And that I encouraged him to never give up, that God still has a purpose and a plan for him. So it is my hope and my prayer that Doc accepts the invitation. Darryl has offered to pay the fee to enroll in this program, and is willing to fly Doc down here. And I’ve told him I’m 15 minutes away from this facility, I’m a member of the board.”

In recent years, Strawberry has publicly said Gooden appears to still be using, angering Doc into saying they were no longer friends.

“While Doc claimed sobriety, we knew that he wasn’t completely sober, and we knew that he was still struggling with it,” Lyons said. “A lot was made of it in the press, and publicly, and some teammates stepped out against Darryl, and saying what should be private. While Darryl got the headlines and took the beating from some and maybe the praise from others, I was a part of that as well. And our intention from Day One is to save Doc’s life.”

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Lyons lost his home and possessions, worsening his existing drinking and drug addiction.

“The devastation that occurred, and the sense of loss and depression that set in afterwards was really something that led to a very dark period in my life,” Lyons said. It all began with “the drinking and the partying, and all that goes along with that from our well documented, 1980s Mets teams.

“Alcohol and marijuana became something that I became addicted to, and something that I was dependent upon on a daily basis for many, many years. And then after Katrina, my life began spiraling out of control even deeper and to darker places.”

His deep depression worsened after his brother’s suicide and a divorce, Lyons says.

“I became someone I never dreamed I could become because of addiction and because of the bondage that I was in,” Lyons said.

On Christmas morning in 2011, six weeks after his girlfriend, Julie, left him, at last Lyons was ready for treatment. They’re now married over seven years.

“It was during that time that my life was radically transformed,” Lyons said. “Every day is a new opportunity to start anew. The old man that I became through my addiction is dead. That person does not exist.”

Throughout that difficult journey, Lyons was striving for something else.

“All the while I was still hopeful and working towards the ultimate goal of minor league baseball in my hometown,” Lyons said. “For this community to enjoy minor league baseball. To have family entertainment that was second to none. To bring minor league baseball to a community that never really had it.”

Efforts to bring a team to Biloxi endured several stutter steps, starting with Katrina. Now Lyons is an ambassador for the Biloxi Shuckers, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Double-A club in the Southern League, in their fifth season.  Lyons contributes to Shucker broadcasts, making public appearances and hosting clinics for them. Mostly, he helps people to recover as he did.

“It’s something that I’m very grateful for, and my gratitude runs very deep as far as helping others,” Lyons said. “That’s my way of giving back.”

It’s likely Gooden has remained sober for stretches, Lyons says, but now he and Strawberry want him taking that next giant step.

“We both love Doc, as do many, many other people and teammates, and Mets Fantasy Camp participants,” Lyons said. “Everybody loves Doc. Doc has not been able to fight off the enemy to the degree that he can remove himself from that lifestyle and from that bondage.

“I’m hoping that he’ll be getting on that plane some time very, very soon. And coming, surrendering, giving himself a real opportunity to put drugs, and alcohol, and that lifestyle behind him. That is my prayer.”