At Old-Timers’ Day, A.J. meets Dr. K
It takes a lot to rattle A.J. Burnett on a normal game day, but the Yankees pitcher was a little nervous waiting for Dwight Gooden to make his way down through the dugout toward the bat rack before Sunday’s Old-Timers’ Day exhibition.
Burnett collects memorabilia relating to strikeout champions, and about eight years ago, someone offered him a box of old Sports Illustrated magazines. He gladly grabbed them up, planning to have the best ones signed for his family room — in his locker here at Yankee Stadium, Burnett has kept Gooden’s April 18, 1985 ‘Doctor K’ cover, waiting for the moment when the good Doc might show up. This was it.
“Mr. Gooden,” Burnett said, like a 8-year-old trying to angle in on an idol. “Can I have your autograph?”
As you’ll see in the photo at right — taken on top of an old Pudge Rodriguez chest protector — Gooden gave Burnett his wish. The inscription reads: “To A.J. – Continued Success. All My Best. Doc Gooden.”
“It’s Doc, man. I always watched him growing up,” Burnett said. “He was one of my favorites. I just told him it was nice to meet him, and I always wanted to. I told him I had something here from the old days for him to sign, and he liked it.”