Iconic Mets card: Gooden in '86

April 7th, 2021

As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.

To begin the series we'll be looking at one iconic card from each team.

Iconic Mets card: Dwight Gooden, 1986 Topps

This one was submitted by Dave Mace from New York, who wrote:

"I’m the same age as Dwight Gooden and I watched every game he pitched in 1985. He was so dominant and I loved watching the K's go up at Shea with each strikeout. The crowd size at the stadium was larger by thousands when Doc pitched because it was almost always a masterful performance."

There are few players more associated with a specific team and era than Doc Gooden and the Mets of the mid-80s.

Gooden came up in 1984 and decimated anybody who dared step in the box against him. He went 17-9 with 276 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA. His curveball became known as "Lord Charles." He had his own Shea Stadium cheering section. He struck out the side in the All-Star Game and won the NL Rookie of the Year.

He somehow got even better in 1985 -- putting up a record of 24-4, compiling an unbelievably miniscule 1.53 ERA while striking out 268 batters. He won the NL Cy Young. He was 20 and on top of the world.

His 1986 Topps baseball card had all these feats and stats packed into it. He would have some other great years -- including an excellent '86 season -- but nothing like the wunderkind brilliance of '84 and '85. Even though his '85 rookie is maybe the most famous and valuable, this card stood for the pinnacle of his career; he has a confident, unfazed look as he glares into the trembling hitter 60 feet, 6 inches away. He even won his first World Series the year of the card.

Mace was heartbroken when Gooden signed with the crosstown Yankees in 1996 -- a team he vowed to never watch. But during one day that year, he decided to go to a game to see his favorite player pitch.

"I would never go watch the team in the Bronx play but a friend convinced me to go since Doc was starting," Mace wrote. "My only time in Yankee Stadium was in May ‘96 and Dr. K threw a no-hitter! I keep his card in the top drawer of my desk just in case I ever need a walk down memory lane with one of the great pitchers."