Simply Baseball Notebook: Perspectives

The Story of Darryl & Doc

'PERSPECTIVE': April 2002



Along time ago in a land far, far away there were two baseball prodigies named Darryl & Doc.  Darryl was a highly touted power-hitting prospect that had been branded the savior of a team that always played second fiddle in the land's largest city.  He possessed a tall, athletic frame and a swing so sweet it made strawberries seem sour.  Doc was the second coming of Satchel Paige; no pitcher has ever been blessed with more ability.  His arm was magic, it made the land's greatest batsmen flail foolishly and kick dirt in disgust.


At first, life in the major leagues came easy to the pair.  Darryl won the rookie of the year at 21 years old, belting 26 home runs.  The next season Doc, only 19, became the youngest pitcher in All Star history striking out all three batters he faced.  He set rookie records for strikeouts and shutouts en route to winning 17 games and the rookie of the year.  Their potential seemed limitless. 


The next season Doc became the best pitcher in the game going 24-4 with an amazing 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts.  He won the pitcher's Triple Crown.  Darryl was the game's best young power hitter, hitting 26 and 29 home runs in the next two seasons.  The following year the duo stood on top of the baseball world when their team rolled through the regular season winning 108 games and then defeated a curse-stricken squad in a thrilling seven game World Series.  All this happened before either of them had turned 25.


The downward spiral for the pair began shortly after.  Doc tested positive for cocaine prior to the next season and spent the first month of the season in rehab.  Darryl hit 39 home runs, but was using drugs, partying all night, and showing up late for games.  He was described by Mets' management as a time bomb waiting to go off.


It soon became clear that Darryl and Doc were drug addicts.  Both checked in and out of treatment several times.  Both faced multiple suspensions from baseball.   Their careers suffered greatly.  Darryl and Doc went from superstars to journeymen seemingly overnight.  Fans that once sat in awe of their ability and cheered them like gods, now scoffed and jeered at what they had become.


Years later they were reunited in the same city as their past glories occurred, only this time with the other team - the one that plays second fiddle to nobody.  They once again tasted fleeting glory:  Doc pitched a no-hitter and two years later Darryl hit 24 home runs and played an integral part of a world championship team.  The next year Darryl was diagnosed with cancer and then suspended for a year for testing positive for drugs. Now, with their baseball days behind them, they are facing legal trouble.


Doc is facing DUI charges after getting pulled over with an open bottle.  That problem, however, pales in comparison to what Darryl is going through.  He was placed in another drug treatment center after a four-day drug binge.  On his 40th birthday Darryl was jailed after being expelled from his treatment center for several violations, none of which is drug related.  The one positive for Darryl is that his body is currently free of cancer.


Their talent has long deserted them.  Doc's once magical arm is now merely human and Darryl's sweet looping swing has disappeared much like baseballs he once hit deep into the night.  Many excuses have been made for Darryl and Doc.  They were so young ..., too much too soon ..., the wrong place at the wrong time ..., etc.  They've been given multiple chances, but it seems Darryl and Doc will never learn.


When will we finally close the book on Darryl and Doc?  Their story seems destined for an unhappy ending.  But, it doesnt seem to matter what Darryl and Doc do, we always seem to care.  The real question is why?


-David Zingler

Gooden's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

Strawberry's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

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