It's been quite some time since I've answered this question, but for the last fifteen years the answer has remained the same. My two favorite ballplayers are Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. I couldn't choose a favorite between the two when I was nine and I can't now. As a child I grew up the son of a New York Mets fan, which made me a Mets fan. I began faithfully following the Mets during the 1986 season, just good timing I guess. I immediately connected with "Doc" and "the Straw". They were young, black and they were great baseball players, among the best at their position. And ultimately they were what every young sports fan in the world wishes to be, winners. Darryl and Dwight traversed the spectrum of life and sport, the good, the bad and the ugly.
On the field nearly no one was better than Gooden and Strawberry. They were both blessed with seemingly unnatural athletic abilities and they performed at peak levels. Darryl's powerfully sweet stroke sent countless baseballs out of the yard. I think Dwight's nickname of "Dr. K" speaks for itself. His blazing fastball and rainbow curveball left opposing hitters baffled, shaking their heads on the way back to the dugout. Gooden and Strawberry were a dominant force on a team that showed it's "amazin" resiliency by overcoming nearly insurmountable odds to win a world championship. The 1986 Mets were a team comprised of players who didn't necessarily like each other but came together for the ultimate goal.
As a child I looked up to Darryl and Dwight, in the same way that many young people look up to great athletes. I wanted to be like them. When I played baseball I was them. As their careers careened hopelessly out of control, it pained me deeply. Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden are my two favorite baseball players not only for their brilliant on the field performances as athletes but also for their imperfect performances in life. They taught me lessons no commercial, teacher or parent could. The tragedy of their careers is the most powerful anti-drug message I have ever received. "Doc" and "Straw" taught me that potential, while god given can always be squandered, and it is imperative to remain ever vigilant in the protection of such a precious gift. Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden were great role models for me, almost perfect on the field, mistake prone off it. They were two human beings. They are my two favorite baseball players.