Sheffield: Family Can't Help Gooden
TAMPA, Florida – Former baseball star Dwight Gooden (search) allegedly fled police after being stopped for drunken driving — and his nephew, New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield, says there is nothing his family can do to help anymore.
"I've done pretty much everything you could possibly do," Sheffield said Tuesday at Yankee Stadium (search). "It just comes to a point where you have to let him go through what he's got to go through. Sometimes, it is God's plan for us to back off and let him do it, because the family has tried everything."
Gooden, who has a history of drug abuse, left the scene of a traffic stop early Monday after refusing to get out of his 2004 BMW to take a field sobriety test, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Tuesday.
The officer stopped Gooden's car because he was weaving in traffic near downtown Tampa, McElroy said. Gooden, a Tampa (search) native and resident, is awaiting trial on a domestic violence charge.
"The officer pulls over the car and immediately notices that the driver is under the influence," she said. "He has bloodshot, glassy eyes, his speech was slurred and he has a strong odor of alcohol."
Gooden handed the officer his driver's license but refused two requests to get out of the car, McElroy said. He then drove off with the officer still holding his license.
Police chose not to pursue for safety reasons, McElroy said, but went to his two known addresses to look for him. They also contacted the Yankees and his mother, she said.
Gooden was a special adviser for the Yankees, but the team says he quit in April — about a month after he was arrested for allegedly hitting his live-in girlfriend.
Yankees spokesman Howard Grosswirth said Tuesday that team officials don't know his whereabouts.
"I feel very sorry for Dwight," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said through spokesman Howard Rubenstein.
Gooden is wanted on felony charges of DUI and fleeing police, and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence.
"At this point he is in a lot of trouble, and the only way he can help himself is to come forward and take responsibility for his actions," McElroy said Tuesday. She did not immediately return a call early Wednesday for an update on the search.
The 1984 Rookie of the Year and the 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner while with the New York Mets, Gooden went 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA before retiring in 2001. He also pitched for the Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Gooden was arrested by Tampa police in 2002 on a drunken driving charge, but later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and received a year probation. He was arrested in March and charged with hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face during an argument. He was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, and the case is pending.
Peter Hobson, the lawyer representing Gooden in the domestic violence case, said Wednesday he could not comment on the disappearance.
During his playing days, Gooden was suspended for 60 days in 1994 for testing positive for cocaine while with the Mets. He tested positive for cocaine again while on suspension and was sidelined for the 1995 season.
"I'm sure everybody in a family has a person in their family that has a problem — drug related or whatever," Sheffield said. "He happens to be the one. It's just one of those things where when he hurts, I hurt."