Dwight Gooden and the ’82 Mets Draft Class-Leading Eagle Turns Team into Champion

Forty years ago, Mets executives turned out to be a notable, franchise-changing 1982 draft, split about who to choose for the fifth overall pick. Some of the organization wanted Sam Horn, a high school slugger in San Diego, while others preferred Dwight Gooden, Tampa’s rocket-armed preparatory pitcher.

At that time, Mets had a spring training home in St. Petersburg, just across from Tampa, so it was easy to scout Guden. Director of GM since 1981-85.

They probably best saw the State High School All-Star game in Sebring two weeks after the end of Gooden’s high school season. Stars from other states such as Rafael Palmeiro and Mike Greenwell were there, and Gooden offered three dominant innings. “I almost stole the show,” says Gooden.

“He’s resting and ready, it’s amazing,” recalls McIlvain. “He blew everyone away.”

It sealed Mets’ decision. “I think we made the right choice,” McIlvaine says with a laugh.

It was the beginning of many of the year. That year, Mets succeeded in nailing future big leaguers in 1982, and 48% of their picks (29-14) eventually reached the major leagues. According to data from, this is the highest percentage of a single draft in June in Mets history. So far, anyway.

Mets reached 25% only four other times. Scouts say it’s okay if the draft has 8-10% big leaguers. “Throughout the entire history of the draft (since 1965), there is a 13.9% chance of reaching MLB if drafted,” said Allan Simpson, founder of Baseball America, a publication that emphasizes draft coverage. I am.

Not all 14 picks in 1982 reached the majors at Mets. For example, he won Palmeiro in the eighth round, but he didn’t sign.

But that draft was one of the most important in Mets history and brought the major gears of the 80’s to the Mets — Gooden, Roger McDowell (3rd round), Barry Lyons (15th round). .. Many believe that their second round pick, Floyd Umans, is an important part of Gary Carter’s trade and the last prosperity of the Mets club that won the 1986 World Series.

If the Mets behave in much the same way in this year’s MLB draft starting Sunday in Los Angeles, look out for the National League. Especially near the top where Mets chose 11th and 14th in the first round and two more picks in the second round, it certainly could have an impact.

It all happens in fanfare (television coverage, face-to-face interviews, social media alerts) that didn’t exist in 1982. In the old days, Guden and two other Tampa region preparation stars and perhaps high-pick Rich Monteleone and Lance McCullers Sr. were destined for their baseball through the newspaper Ticker from the Tampa Tribune’s Tom McCullers. I accepted the invitation to follow.

“I was supposed to go third of the three of us,” says Gooden, who also signed an intention to play at the University of Miami. He was the first of a drafted trio. “We are watching, and we are watching [Shawon] Danston went first overall, and after a while, Mets chose me. I called Tom McWen to New York to confirm that it was correct.

“I was so excited that I couldn’t even drive,” Gooden adds. “My high school catcher [Eddie Ganzy] Coming with me, he had to bring my dad’s car back to my house. When we got there, a lot of media was waiting outside, it was like making a big league. All neighbors were watching. They didn’t know what was going on. “

At the time, Simpson said there was an industry surprise that Gooden was so well received. “He was known and there was a perception that he would be in the first round, but it was considered overdraft,” says Simpson.

Guden finally signed a $ 85,000 bonus, but not before Guden could easily think his professional dream was dead. Negotiations were stalled, and McIlbain waved Guden’s hand, saying, “Well, I’m sorry, I couldn’t do anything. Good luck at school.”

“I remember my mom blasting my dad and he said,’He’s coming back,'” says Gooden. “About three days later, my dad called Joe and said there was a deal.”

Of course, Gooden has become a phenomenon.

In 1983, his first full-pro season, 18-year-old Gooden defeated 300 batters in Class A Lynchburg. A year later, he was named the NL Rookie of the Year. A year later, he won the 1985 NL Cy Young Award for one of the best seasons in pitching history.

Umans was a Gooden teammate at Hillsborough High School until his senior year when he moved to California. When Gooden was a junior, Eumans got into trouble with a high school coach, says Gooden, and Gooden got his rotation spot.

Mets placed him 33rd overall and gave him $ 62,500 to sign. This is the best bonus in the second round.

“His stuff was crazy,” Lions say of Youmans.

That’s why Expos wanted Umans on a Carter deal, along with the already established Hubie Brooks, a catcher to replace Mike Fitzgerald’s Carter and outfielder candidate Herm Winningham. “When you can get Gary Carter, you don’t have much to hold back,” says McIlvaine. “All four played in the big league, but Gary Carter helped us win the World Series. That’s the purpose of your business.”

Prior to the draft, bowling green pitcher McDowell was only in contact with the Mets and Phillies. He searched for Tony Lucadero, a legendary Philadelphia scout known for his contract with Ferguson Jenkins and Mike Schmidt, and spoke with Bob Wellman, a Mets scout in charge of the Ohio region. Wellman’s recommendation concludes Mets’ choice.

“Bob said he would be a good pitcher, and I went with Bob,” says McIlbain. Bob was right — McDowell became an important rescuer of Mets. He signed for $ 32,500, went to Shelby, North Carolina, and went to the South Atlantic League Mets franchise. He recalls that the 2×4 nails stripped across the walls of the clubhouse acted as hangers. The only furniture was an old wooden bench. Spare? yes. Is beautiful.

“I thought I was dead and went to heaven,” says McDowell. “This is a professional ball and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”

He initially slept in a bed in an older woman’s house for $ 5 a week, but another pitcher known as a “creature” (McDowell can’t remember his name) got hooked on the game and moved. After that, I became a roommate with Lenny Dykstra and John Gibbons. In the middle of the night. Traveling with Dykstra meant that McDowell had a lift at Dykstra’s Porsche Boxster stadium.

“It was the only vehicle we had,” says McDowell. “As a new man, I’m back. I couldn’t sit there enough to lie down.”

When it comes to cars, Gooden made an impression with one car when he appeared in the instructional league driving a new, deceived Trans-Am after the 1982 season. Both Lions and McDowell were surprised. “That’s what the No. 1 pick does,” says McDowell.

Lions, a bat-first catcher in the Mets Big League between 1986 and 1990, added $ 500 to sign from McIlvain after announcing the end of a final semester at a Delta college. I received a fee. After agreeing over the phone, Lions began their drive to Shelby, and on the way, met a scout who noticed him at a fast-food restaurant off the interstate and signed the contract. It came with a $ 1,500 bonus.

Eight picks from that Mets draft played at least 253 major games — Palmeiro (2,831), Gerald Young (640), McDowell (620), Tracy Jones (493), Gregg Olson (414), Doug Henry. (348), Gooden (318) and Lions (253).

Palmeiro, an outfielder from Jackson High in Miami at the time, was pulled out in Round 8, but he really wanted to go to college, says McIlbain. Mississippi. In 1985, the Cubs drafted him 22nd overall, hitting 569 career home runs.

“We seized the opportunity, and why not? It didn’t work. It happens,” says McIlvaine.

Still, the ’82 draft remains tremendous in Mets’ series of powerful drafts. In 1980, they first took Darryl Strawberry overall. Dykstra was selected in the 13th round in 1981. From 1980 to 1984, the percentage of Mets drafts played in MLB is as follows: 20%, 21%, 48%, 25%, 17%.

Horn, another player Mets considered on his first pick, went to Boston in 16th place and hit 62 home runs in four clubs for an eight-year career.

“The success of 1986 is directly due to the wonderful drafting they made in the early 80’s,” says Simpson. “Joe is one of the greatest scouting directors ever.”

From 1984 to 1990, Mets had a winning percentage of .588, winning more than 100 games twice and at least 90 times four times. Drafting and development were part of the reason. In interviews, Gooden pointed out several times how important the organization’s development department and club scouts are, and McDowell shows how underage winning teams train big club winners. I talked about how it helped.

“I wish I could win multiple World Series,” says McIlvaine. “We had the talent to really win for a couple of years.”


Dwight Gooden and the ’82 Mets Draft Class-Leading Eagle Turns Team into Champion

Source link Dwight Gooden and the ’82 Mets Draft Class-Leading Eagle Turns Team into Champion

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