Soft-spoken but hard-throwing Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets became the youngest pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award Wednesday and said: "Things have moved pretty rapidly in my career."
Gooden, who will be 21 Saturday, received unanimous acclaim as the best pitcher in the National League this past season in voting by the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.
"This is a goal of every pitcher," Gooden said at Shea Stadium after the award was announced. "But I'm also looking forward to getting into the playoffs, maybe next year."
Gooden also became the first pitcher to win Rookie of the Year honors and the Cy Young Award in successive seasons. The right-hander had a record of 24-4 and led the National League in earned-run average, strikeouts, complete games and innings pitched.
So, what can he do for an encore?
"Last year, I won the rookie award, and that was special because you only have one chance. And the Cy Young is a great honor after finishing second last year. You just try to do a little bit better each year," he said. "A World Series ring sure would be great."
Gooden received 120 points, including all 24 of the first-place votes cast, becoming the seventh pitcher to receive the award unanimously. John Tudor of St. Louis, 21-8 during the season, was second with 65 points, followed by Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers with 17, Joaquin Andujar of St. Louis with 6, Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers with 4, Tom Browning of Cincinnati with 3 and Jeff Reardon of Montreal with 1.
The other unanimous winners were Sandy Koufax in 1963, '65 and '66; Denny McLain in 1968; Bob Gibson in 1968; Steve Carlton in 1972 and '77; Ron Guidry in 1978, and Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.
Votes are cast by two members of the association from each National League city with a first-place vote counting five points, three for second and one for third.
The award came to Gooden three days before his 21st birthday, making him 13 days younger than Valenzuela when the Dodger southpaw won his Cy Young Award in 1981.
And although Valenzuela won both the Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year honors in the NL in '81, no pitcher had ever won them in successive years.
Gooden's 1985 ERA of 1.53 was a team record, and he led the league with 276 innings pitched, 268 strikeouts and 16 complete games. He also had 8 shutouts, second in the NL to Tudor's 10.