TAMPA, Fla. – Former baseball star Dwight Gooden was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison for violating his probation by using cocaine, the latest legal trouble for the once-dominant pitcher.
With credit for time already served in jail and a drug treatment facility, Gooden likely will spend about 7 1/2 months in state prison, said his attorney, Peter Hobson.
Gooden, 41, was serving three years' probation for speeding away from police during a drunken driving traffic stop last year when he failed a drug test and acknowledged to a probation officer that he had used cocaine.
He chose the prison sentence over reinstatement of his probation, which would have meant the prospect of five years behind bars if he violated it again.
"I have a problem, sir, with cocaine," Gooden, dressed in an orange jail outfit, told state Circuit Judge Daniel L. Perry. "I had a cocaine relapse."
As part of his probation, he had been ordered to stay away from alcohol, drugs and bars, and to submit to a minimum of three random urine tests a week. He also spent two months in an addiction treatment facility.
Regarding his choice of prison over reinstatement of probation, Hobson said Gooden "made a decision that he in his mind thought was best for him."
"This is not a case of a pampered athlete," Hobson said. "He took it like a man. He took it like any citizen in this situation. He didn't whimper, he didn't cry, he didn't beg. He took it like a man."
Prosecutor Pam Bondi said she hopes Gooden can get the help he needs and get on with his life.
Gooden apologized to the court in November when he pleaded guilty to a felony count of fleeing police, misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and obstruction and to an unrelated charge of hitting his girlfriend.
Gooden had been the 1984 Rookie of the Year, and he was the 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner while with the New York Mets. He went 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA before retiring in 2001. He also pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In 1994, while with the Mets, Gooden was suspended for 60 days for testing positive for cocaine. He tested positive for cocaine again while on suspension and was sidelined for the 1995 season.