Mets induct 4 from '86 team into HOF

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets inducted two of their brightest and most troubled stars into the team's Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden were welcomed into the Mets Hall of Fame in a ceremony before the Mets-Arizona Diamondbacks game. Former general manager Frank Cashen and manager Davey Johnson were also enshrined into the team's Hall of Fame during a half-hour ceremony under overcast skies at Citi Field.

The club's Hall of Fame was founded in 1981, but only three people have been inducted in the past eight years, in part because of Gooden and Strawberry.

Many fans and executives didn't think anybody else deserved the honor ahead of the two anchors of the 1986 title team, but their well-documented problems with substance abuse and the law over nearly three decades left officials to conclude it wasn't the appropriate time.

Their names were finally announced with the rest of the class in January.

Strawberry, a seven-time All-Star with the Mets, is the team's all-time leader in home runs (252), RBIs (733) and runs (662).

"There was nothing greater than coming out to Shea [Stadium] every night to perform," Strawberry told fans during a brief induction speech. "You had the spirit that the players had -- never quit."

Gooden won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1984 and the CY Young award a year later. He led the league in wins (24), ERA (1.53) and strikeouts (268) during his Cy Young season. Gooden also ranks second in franchise history in wins (157) and strikeouts (1,875).

"This is really, really amazing and it feels so good to be home," said Gooden, who later threw out the game's first pitch to Gary Carter. "There was no better feeling when I took the mound and I had two strikes on a batter and all you guys were stranding and clapping, wanting that third strike."

Cashen was the architect behind the 1986 championship team, bringing in Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez and Bobby Ojeda to Queens through shrewd trades and drafting Strawberry and Gooden.

Johnson managed the Mets to the 1986 World Series title. His 595 wins from 1984-1990 are the most in franchise history. Longtime front office member Bob Mandt received the Mets Hall of Fame Achievement Award.

"To come and manage in New York, I tell you, it was a challenge and it was some of the greatest years of my life," he said. "I think back to '86 and what a great year it was, and a lesson we learned from that year, no matter what happens, you always have a chance."

All four inductees made brief remarks to the crowd from a podium in center field.

The team also played video tributes to each Hall of Famer on the JumboTron in center field.

Members of each man's family were on hand for the ceremonies. And fellow Mets Hall of Famers Budd Harrelson, Rusty Staub, Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Gary Carter and Ralph Kiner were seated to each side of the podium during the induction.

There was a special "Hall of Fame" design painted on the infield grass, and the four new members had their images plastered to the wall in center field. Hats honoring them were given out to the first 25,000 fans, and many current Mets watched the ceremony from the dugout.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.