FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. (AP) — 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 a child in his vehicle at the time of the two-vehicle crash around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Franklin Lakes police Capt. Joseph Seltenrich said.
Police wouldn’t say whose child it was, but they said no one was hurt.
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, Phil 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 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.
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.
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.