Gooden visits Amsterdam for Mohawks’ event

AMSTERDAM – As a starting pitcher for the New York Mets, Dwight “Doc” Gooden won seven of his eight opening day starts.

The Amsterdam Mohawks are hoping that his opening day success carries over to their 2013 season as Gooden was the keynote speaker at the Sixth Annual Amsterdam Baseball/Mohawks Baseball Hall of Fame dinner Saturday night at St. Mary’s Institute.

More than 300 people turned out to honor the local baseball Hall of Fame induction class that included Steve Porcello, Dan Saullo, Vince Riggi and Mark Leiter Jr.

Porcello, a longtime member and supporter of the Amsterdam Little League and Saullo, a former Amsterdam High School and Siena College standout were inducted into the Amsterdam Baseball portion of the Hall of Fame.

Riggi and Leiter Jr. were honored with induction into the Mohawks portion of the Hall of Fame.

After spending time signing memorabilia and greeting members of the public, Gooden spoke of his 16 year major league career, which got its start in 1982 with the Mets’ minor league team in Little Falls.

Before taking questions from the audience, Gooden reflected on his career with the Mets, Yankees, Indians, Astros and Devil Rays.

Gooden posted a career record of 194-112 and struck out 2,293 batters. However, his game on May 14, 1996 stands out as the most memorable of his career.

Gooden was torn between taking the mound for the Yankees against the Seattle Mariners and heading home to be with his father who was hospitalized awaiting heart surgery.

He opted to stay in New York and pitched the lone no-hitter of his career.

“That was also the last game my father watched me pitch,” Gooden said.

Mohawks president Brian Spagnola said the team is looking forward to get on the Shuttleworth Park diamond after winning their third championship in four years.

During the 2012 Perfect Pitch Collegiate Baseball League championship season, the Mohawks were ranked third in the nation and set a new attendance record of 42,000 fans turning out to watch the Keith Griffin-coached Mohawks post an 18-6 record en route to a 35-12 overall mark.

Amsterdam will open its 48 game regular season on the road on June 5 against the Albany Dutchmen before hosting the Utica Brewers in its home opener on June 6.