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by Harvey Frommer

On October 16, 1995, Dwight Gooden was signed by the New York Yankees. His days of glory in New York City baseball pitching with the Mets were behind him. Drugs and alcohol had made the man they had called Doctor K" pay a price.

The 1996 season was more of the same for Gooden, failure. George Steinbrenner had claimed that the 31-year-old hurler could win 15 games. He was

Struggling to win one. Gooden was sent to the Yankee bullpen with an 0-3 record and an 11.48 ERA. "I've just got to keep working on my mechanics," the Doc said. "It's complete frustration more than anything else."

A depleted Yankee pitching staff brought Gooden back to center stage. He was rushed into the rotation on April 27. There were six strong innings hurled against the Twins, a half dozen shutout innings over the White Sox. Then Gooden notched his first victory since June 19, 1994. It was a gem against the Tigers, the final 20 batters were retired in a row.

On Tuesday night, May 14, 1996, Dwight Gooden, his father in the hospital in Tampa slated for next day double bypass surgery, took the mound against Seattle.

As the Mariners came to bat in the ninth inning, most of the 20,786 fans, hoarse from screaming inning after inning, were edgy, standing up. Gooden had thrown more than a hundred pitches and was going on grit now.

The Mariners managed to get runners on first and second base. "It was Dwight's game all the way." said Joe Torre. A wild pitch to the dangerous Jay Buhner moved the runners to second and third with one out. Gooden reared back and fanned Buhner. Two out.

Gooden's 135th pitch of the game was a swerving curve to Paul Sorrento, a high pop to Jeter - - no-hitter! Yankee Stadium rocked! Gooden was carried off the field on the shoulders of his Yankee teammates.

"This is the greatest feeling of my life," he said. "I never thought I could do this, not in my wildest dreams. A year and a half ago I thought I had pitched my last game, so being able not only to make it back but to throw a no-hitter, that's been an incredible blessing for me."

It was the eighth regular-season no-hitter by a Yankee hurler. For Dwight Gooden that performance ended a streak of 23 months without a major-league victory and saw him rebound from an 0-3 start to win 11 of next 13 decisions.

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