As Mets and Yankees fans remember well, Doc Gooden routinely used to mow ‘em down from the mound. But the baseball ace was never much known for his fielding so when he agreed to be a pitch man for a new grass company, some might have thought he was lobbing a passed ball for a medical marijuana dispenser.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. It turns out that Gooden has teamed up with Pennington Seed, which recently became the official lawn care company of the New York Yankees, for a special backyard “spring training” event Saturday at Home Depot on Jericho Turnpike in Jericho.

Gooden is slated to be on hand for a meet and greet from noon to 1 p.m. at the store—and he’ll sign memorabilia, whether it’s Yankees or Mets collectibles.

“As part of the partnership with the Yankees, Pennington is working directly with the grounds crew to develop a unique blend of grass seed that supports the aesthetic, functional and maintenance needs of the field,” said Brette Bennett, a Pennington Seed spokesperson. The main ingredient is Kentucky Bluegrass.

Earlier this year Pennington Seed, Inc., which was founded in Madison, Ga., back in 1945, officially replaced the Yankee Stadium Grass Seed Mix from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

Known as “Dr. K” for his impressive string of strike-outs every game, Dwight Gooden spent 18 years in the Majors: 11 with the Mets, most notably when he helped the team win the 1986 World Series yet notoriously missed the victory parade in Manhattan after a heavy night of partying, and three years with the Yankees, where he memorably threw a 135-pitch no-hitter in 1996 while his father was awaiting open heart surgery in a hospital. After that gutsy performance, Gooden presented his dad with a game ball.

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Gooden would frequently shine on the diamond. Off the field was where he often found trouble, as readers of his recent autobiography, Doc: A Memoir, learned full well. While the Mets were parading through lower Manhattan in 1986, Doc was in bad shape from all the booze and coke he’d self-medicated the night before.

“As my teammates rode through the Canyon of Heroes,” he wrote, “I was alone in my bed in Roslyn, Long Island, with the curtains closed and the TV on, missing what should have been the greatest morning of my life.”

And the worst was yet to come: a full-year suspension in 1995 for testing positive for cocaine abuse. But he pulled himself together, in no small part due to the encouragement of George Steinbrenner, “the boss of the Yankees,” who convinced the Doc to don pinstripes. It suited him fine. And now he says he’s been completely clean since 2011. But does that mean he has no grass stains on his uniform? Come to Home Depot on April 19 and find out.


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Spencer Rumsey, the Long Island Press’ senior editor, has worked on dailies, weeklies and monthlies, including New York Newsday and the New York Post, the East Village Eye and the supermarket tabloid Star Magazine. Starting at the Press in 2010, he’s written award-winning stories on planning, politics and policy, to name a few topics, and he’s taken on a wide range of targets in his Press blog, Rumsey Punch.