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Dave Dravecky - Life Goes On

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After a series of operations and radiation treatments, Dravecky after ten months came to the conclusion that there was only one viable option left. On June 18, 1991, Dravecky's left arm and shoulder were amputated. "I felt like I lost a real good buddy," the pitcher told Nack. "You know, this friend that has been attached to me all those years; that allowed me to do something that I enjoyed more than just about anything on this earth … that friend is gone." What remained was "phantom pain," a medical phenomenon that causes an amputee to feel pain where a limb has been removed. "It burns," he explained to Nack. "Very hot and painful. A constant burn. Not a throb, but a burning in the fingers and the palm, like someone is taking a match and sticking it right at the end of my fingertips."

Still, the amputation gave Dravecky a new chance for life. As he recovered, he found joy in being able to get a full night's sleep, or to play with his children without fear of further injury. Throughout the entire ordeal, Dravecky and his family have relied on their devout Christianity to help both Dave and Jan deal with severe depression. Dravecky spoke frankly about his life in his book When You Can't Come Back: A Story of Courage and Grace. "I used to feel [my condition] was tragic," wrote the onetime pitcher. "I used to be preoccupied with my own needs; now I am learning compassion for others. I used to depend on myself; now I lean more on God." In his retirement from baseball, Dravecky wasn't forgotten by his fans. Pitching "righty," he threw out the first ceremonial ball at a 1998 Giants game.

Career Statistics

Yr Team W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R BB SO
SDP: San Diego Padres. SFG: San Francisco Giants.
1982 SDP 5 3 2.57 10 0 0 105.0 86 8 33 59
1983 SDP 14 10 3.58 28 9 1 183.7 181 18 44 74
1984 SDP 9 8 2.93 14 3 2 156.7 125 12 51 71
1985 SDP 13 11 2.93 31 7 2 214.7 200 18 57 105
1986 SDP 9 11 3.07 26 3 1 161.3 149 17 54 87
1987 SDP 3 7 3.76 10 1 0 79.0 71 10 31 60
1987 SFG 7 5 3.20 18 4 3 112.3 115 8 33 78
1988 SFG 2 2 3.16 7 1 0 37.0 33 4 8 19
1989 SFG 2 0 3.46 2 0 0 13.0 8 2 4 5
TOTAL 64 57 3.13 146 28 9 1062.7 968 97 315 558

Dave Dravecky is one of 7.4 million cancer survivors in the United States. In 1991 he and his wife, Jan, founded Outreach of Hope (formerly the Dave Dravecky Foundation), a nonprofit organization that provides support to cancer patients and their families, as well as others facing adversity. An author affiliated with the Christian publisher Zondervan, Dravecky is also a professional speaker, touching on points inspirational, motivational, and evangelical.

"If you can't admire Dave Dravecky," Giants teammate Terry Kennedy told the San Francisco Herald during the pitcher's 1989 comeback attempt, "then something is wrong with you. He's an example for people who have cancer especially, and for people who have major afflictions in general. It's something that he can throw a ball at all. This is a guy who wasn't supposed to be able to comb his hair."

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