Opening Day was going to be later this week, but it, like most everything, is being rescheduled. Nonetheless, I'm still thinking about baseball, and I remembered a story Charlie O'Brien shared about catching Dwight Gooden one Opening Day. I thought I would pass it along:
We had one opening day game at Shea Stadium in miserable conditions. Cold and rainy. Not a good day to pitch in, but everybody's excited. Sellout crowd. Our manager, Buddy Harrelson, left Dwight in for the whole game. He threw a ton of pitches, close to 150. That's crazy for any game, much less the first day of the season when pitchers are still getting in to shape. Especially when the conditions were awful for keeping your arm warmed up and loose.
Dwight didn't say a word. Never complained. That didn't surprise me. He wasn't real vocal. But, he was a leader in the sense of "Watch me and how I do my work." He got to the park early. Stayed late. Ran and did his rubber band conditioning exercises. Studied hitters. He was prepared, and he went out to the mound and took the ball every fifth day. And, I guess I think about that game and Dwight going out there inning after inning in the cold and the rain never complaining about it, and he sent a message to the team. That he'd do whatever it took for us to win. He didn't have to tell us this in a clubhouse speech. He spoke through his actions. He was a gamer.
(Excerpt from The Cy Young Catcher, Texas A&M University Press, 2015).