Heat: My Life on and Off the Diamond

Dwight Gooden, Author, Bob Kapisch, Author, Bob Klapisch, With William Morrow & Company $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-688-16339-6
As fans of the 1986 New York Mets slept happily on the night after the team's dramatic 16-inning pennant-clinching victory over the Houston Astros, members of the team were 30,000 feet in the air downing booze, snorting drugs and eventually trashing the plane taking them back to the city that loved them. It is this juxtaposition of greatness and depravity that Gooden, with Klapisch (The Worst Team Money Could Buy), recounts so potently in a forthright sketch of his journey from public adoration to disgrace and back to triumph. The book explains the process by which this gifted pitcher--who won the 1984 Rookie of the Year Award, the 1985 Cy Young Award and a 1996 World Series ring--found himself, in 1994, sitting on the edge of his bed with a nine-millimeter handgun pressed to his temple. The story is ultimately one of redemption, but Gooden is quite candid about his painfully senseless relapses and their ramifications for those around him. Beyond the tale of Gooden's addiction, there's plenty of standard sports autobiography fare, including articulate descriptions of how the game is played and frank portrayals of other players. Also, spliced throughout the book's nine chapters, is a running account of May 14, 1996, the day Gooden's father lay in a Tampa hospital awaiting open-heart surgery while his recovering son affirmed his new life by pitching a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. With an absorbing, straightforward story and Klapisch's hand to polish it, Gooden delivers without trying to put one past readers. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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