It’s September 12, 1984, and Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden collects his 246th strikeout of the season, passing Herb Score‘s rookie strikeout record. Doc gets the milestone in the sixth inning at Shea Stadium, striking out Pirate Marvell Wynne for his 11th K of the game.
In 1984, Dwight Gooden is just 19 years old. He’s got a blazing fastball and hellacious curve. Gooden spent 1983 with the Mets’ Class A team in Lynchburg, Virginia where he struck out 300 batters in just 191 innings. He then got called up for the Triple-A postseason with the Tidewater Tides. Dwight made his first big league start in April 1984 at Houston.
In this record-setting game, Gooden doesn’t strike out any batters in the first inning. He then strikes out two in the second, third, and fourth. He strikes out the side in the fifth inning. Future Mets nemesis, Pirate pitcher John Tudor, strikes out to start the sixth. That ties Gooden for the rookie strikeout record, set by Score in 1955. Then Wynne steps to the plate.
Dwight would go on to strike out two more in the seventh and fan the side again in the eighth. He didn’t get any K’s in the ninth inning. At one point he struck out six straight batters.
In the game, Hubie Brooks hit a two-run homer in the fourth with Keith Hernandez on base after a single, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Gooden finished the complete game shutout with 16 strikeouts, no walks, and only 5 hits. He threw 120 pitches, 92 of them strikes. It was his second straight shutout, previously throwing a one-hitter against the Cubs. It was also Gooden’s seventh straight victory.
In this same game, in addition to the rookie strikeout record, Gooden broke Nolan Ryan‘s Mets record of 14 strikeouts by a rookie in a game, set in 1969. He also broke Tom Seaver‘s one-season record of 13 games with 10 or more strikeouts, set in 1971.
“Sometimes you think about it. You think about it going home, or lying in bed before falling asleep. You think, ‘Am I dreaming?'”Gooden told the New York Times
In 1984 Dwight Gooden won the Rookie of the Year, with a 24-4 record and 276 strikeouts, still the rookie record, in 218 innings. The next year he won the NL Cy Young Award.