The former Mets and Yankees teammates were both scheduled to participate in a WFAN live interview Thursday evening. Gooden, however, was ultimately unable to attend.
A member of the audience in the Adorama Live Theater asked Strawberry if he was worried about Gooden and his future.
“I’m worried. A lot,” Strawberry said after a lengthy pause. “It’s a real struggle. It’s very difficult to talk about because I know the drill, I know the deal. It’s very sad. It’s hard. ‘Cause even though we weren’t as close, like everybody wanted to make us out to be, he’s a friend. And it’s a very challenging, very difficult time of his life. It’s tough.
“It’s really, really, really tough to sit here and just know that he was supposed to be here, too, and he’s not here. It’s really tough. And I think a lot of times people just keep thinking it’s all right, and it’s not all right. My fear is that — and I know addiction — and my fear is people that don’t change, they die. They die this way. I just hope the light comes on soon before it’s too late.”
Gooden has battled drug addiction since his playing days, which eventually landed him in prison for seven months in 2006. The Cy Young Award winner has said in recent interviews that he still struggles with the urges.
The spotlight has found Gooden, 51, again in recent months as the Mets celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1986 world title, the Yankees marked the 20th anniversary of their 1996 championship and ESPN aired a documentary about the relationship between Gooden and Strawberry, who also has battled drug addiction and spent time behind bars.
The interview took place on the Stub Hub stage at the Adorama Live Theater in the CBS Hudson Square studios.
Watch the full interview with Strawberry, conducted by WFAN’s Joe Benigno, below: