Those of you younger than, say, 40 years will have to imagine, for Gooden’s insane ’85 — a 24-4 record, a 1.53 ERA, just 13 home runs allowed and 268 strikeouts against 69 walks in 276 ¹/₃ innings pitched, all in his age-20 season — celebrates its 35th anniversary without quite being matched. Nor had folks witnessed quite as dominant a campaign in the 71 seasons that preceded it. By Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement measure, Gooden’s 1985 ranks as the best major league season by a pitcher in the past 106 years.
I was 6 years old during Gooden’s rookie year, and it did not take long for his starts to become appointment viewing in my house. I still remember like it was yesterday sitting on the beach with my dad listening to Doc finish off another one of his complete games.