MIAMI (Reuters) – Embattled former baseball star Dwight
Gooden chose on Wednesday to go to prison for a year and a day
rather than enter a drug rehabilitation facility after using
cocaine while on probation, court officials in Tampa said.
Gooden, a Tampa native who won the National League Cy Young
Award in 1985, had been on probation since he fled from police
after a traffic stop in 2004.
Submission to regular drug tests was one of the conditions
of his probation and he was sent to Hillsborough County Jail
last month after testing positive for cocaine.
Prosecutor Pam Bondi said Gooden was given the chance to
accept treatment in an inpatient alcohol and drug addiction
facility instead of prison time before his sentencing.
Bondi said Gooden chose the minimum one-year-and-one-day
prison sentence instead because the judge said Gooden would
receive a five-year sentence if he accepted the rehabilitation
term and then slipped back into drug use.
“He let many people down but the most important person was
himself,” Bondi said.
Gooden started his Major League career with the New York
Mets in 1984 and became one of baseball’s most dominating
pitchers. He also pitched for Cleveland, Houston, Tampa Bay and
the New York Yankees before retiring after the 2000 season. He
won 194 games and lost 112 in 16 seasons in a career marred by
drug use and suspensions.