NEW YORK — Tampa-born Dwight “Doc” Gooden has led a colorful life in New York both during and after his storied career with the Mets and the Yankees, but certainly his strangest distinction is coming over a decade-and-a-half into his retirement: Gooden is set to play Santa Claus at a Midtown strip club.
Gooden, 53, will be dressed in a Santa suit at the Vivid Cabaret gentlemen’s club on Tuesday. Per a release from the club, the former pitching sensation will have strippers sitting on his lap and will ask them if they’ve been naughty or nice.
Of course, this is far from Gooden’s first brush with the seedier side of life. In the early days of his MLB career with the Mets, Gooden seemed poised to capture a slot in every fan’s “Top 5 Pitchers” list, and was peerless at the time. He soon fell into trouble, developing a drug and alcohol problem in 1987 that many believe came to limit the heights of his greatness.
Around this same time, Gooden was beaten badly by Tampa police after having been stopped for a traffic violation. A City Attorney report that exonerated the officers and blamed Gooden for the violent arrest is often cited as one of the primary causes of the 1987 Tampa riots.
Gooden went on to be arrested in Tampa again. In 2002 he was apprehended by police for driving while intoxicated and in 2005 for punching his girlfriend after she threw a phone at him. (Phones, it should be noted, were much larger and more formidable weapons back in 2005!)
The pitcher also spent seven months in prison in Florida for violating probation on a 2006 drug charge.
Presumably no such troubles will dog Doc in Tuesday’s festivities, however. Vivid Cabaret has not thus far responded to news outlets’ requests for more information about the event, though the succinct description provided is probably clear enough.
Having been naughty a few times himself, hopefully Gooden will prove a lenient Santa and not hand out too much coal!