What’s your lasting impression of Dwight Gooden?

Well, considering that you’re here with me today, reading about baseball cards, I’ll take a wild guess and say that impression has something do with Doc’s rookie card:

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Or maybe is “First Topps Card” in the 1984 Topps Traded set:

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Or, possibly, it’s that 1984 Fleer Update card that helped that puppy take off:

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Whichever Gooden card tweaks your diamond nostalgia, those memories no doubt include Doc’s excellence with the upstart Mets as a teenage rookie in 1984, and his utter dominance the next season.

Likely, you also remember Gooden as a key member of the 1986 World Series champions, still a star-level performer even as the rest of the Mets matured around him and sapped a bit of his limelight.

And, sure, you probably also remember Dwight’s off-field issues that hastened his slide to mediocrity or worse, and to an empty foray into free agency after the strike-shortened 1994 season that left him out of the game in 1995.

That’s all part of Doc’s story, to be sure, and so are the rumors and innuendos that continue to follow him even today.

But in between his Shea Stadium exit and a single appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot (2006, where he received just 3.3% support), Gooden gave us more.

First, there were 20 wins for the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1997 combined, the first season in service of the Bombers’ first championship since 1978.

Then there was one solid season and one pretty awful season for the Indians, the first in service to a Cleveland team who lost the ALCS in six games to … yes, the Yankees.

And then, there was that funky 2000 season that started with one appearance for the Astros after Doc signed as a free agent in the offseason …

… and continued when the Devil Rays bought his contract on April 13 …

… and crashed when the Rays released him in May …

… and picked up again when the Yankees signed him on June 11.

In half a season in the Bronx, Gooden went 4-2 with a 3.36 ERA, contributing 1.3 WAR to a Yanks’ team that needed every fraction of an advantage they could find — they won the AL East by 2.5 games over the Red Sox, sporting a fairly pedestrian 87-74 record.

Once again, the Yanks — and Doc — were in the postseason.

And, once again, Gooden was mostly a non-factor.

He got shellacked in one appearance against the A’s in the ALDS and then held the Mariners scoreless over 2 1/3 innings in a Game 5 loss to the Mariners in the ALCS.

Gooden didn’t get the decision in either of those games, which left his postseason record at 0-4 with a 3.97 ERA.

And, well, it stayed that way.

Doc didn’t appear at all in the Subway Series, a 4-1 Yanks victory over the crosstown Mets — yeah, Gooden’s old team.

A free agent again after the season, Gooden re-upped with the Yanks, but they cut him during Spring Training in 2001, and that was all she wrote for Doc in the big leagues.

With his career already looking iffy as the 2000 season came to an end, and with the early exit in 2001, Gooden mostly whiffed when it came to baseball card in 2001.

He did make appearances in Subway Series issues by Topps and Upper Deck — ironic considering he didn’t play.

And he did get a proper career-capper from Pacific:

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It’s fine.

But late in 2001, Topps issued their yearly Traded set, and with a bit of distance and clarity on Gooden’s non-future as an active player, The Old Gum Company uncorked a beaut:

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And when you turn it over, you get Gooden’s full career line (if not his full slate of yearly stats):

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It’s a perfect bookend tribute to an imperfect career that nevertheless left us breathless … and hungry for more.

Who Would Have Thought, indeed.