Local Kids Get Pep Talk From Baseball Superstar Dwight Gooden

Baseball great Dwight “Doc” Gooden shows kids in the Simuel Whitfield Simmons Organization program how to throw a curve ball.

About two dozen kids from Franklin and the surrounding area – most of them baseball fans – got a treat on August 7: a face-to-face meeting with baseball great Dwight “Doc” Gooden.

Gooden, who at one time called Piscataway his home, made an appearance at the UFC Gym on Route 1 in North Brunswick under the auspices of the Franklin-based Simuel Whitfield Simmons Organization.

Organization founder Natasha Rodgers said the non-profit exists to mentor youth and help families in need get necessities such as clothing and food.

Gooden’s appearance, she said, was meant to give the kids an encouraging message as they prepare to head back to school.

“What we deiced to do was bring baseball great Dwight Gooden here to speak to the youth and encourage them, empower them as they head back to school, to know the value of who they are, believing in in themselves, encouraging them to reach beyond their capacities and be as great as they could be,” she said.

“He’s been gracious enough to come to speak to some of the youth in our community, and encourage them as they’re going through their journeys academically, because with the pandemic, it’s been really challenging for a lot of youth,” she said.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate spoke to Dwight Gooden after the event:

Gooden played for a number of teams including the New York Mets and the New York Yankees before his 16-year career was derailed by cocaine and alcohol addiction. He now uses his life experiences to speak to kids.

Gooden said he feels it’s “very important” to speak to kids, especially the young ones.

“Any time I can spend time with kids and give back, not only to talk baseball, but about personal life in general, about the different tests and challenges in life … I try to catch them at a young age, let them know that it’s a good thing to hang around positive people, people with the same goals that you have,” he said.

“That’s just my purpose,” the two-time World Series champion said. “With my addiction … a lot of people lost their lives doing a lot less than I did, so I feel I’m here for a purpose, and my obligation is to give back and share my story with these kids.”

Gooden told the 25 kids attending teh program that they should not feel shy about finding someone to talk to if they have a problem.

“Whoever you feel comfortable talking to about it, talk to them,” he said. “It doesn’t make you weak.”

“Life is a beautiful thing, man,” Gooden said. “You should be having fun. The only things you should have to worry about is who you’re going to hit a home run off of and who you’re going to strike out.”

Also speaking to the kids was Bruce Morgan, president of the New Brunswick chapter of the NAACP. Morgan told the attendees about the services available through his organization.

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