Dave Dravecky’s story is one filled with pain and adversity, but it is also a story of success, encouragement and of overcoming adversity. Dravecky spent eight seasons in Major League Baseball as a lefthanded pitcher from 1982 to 1989, primarily as a starter for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. In 1983 he made the National League All-Star Team as a member of the Padres and one year later he helped lead the Padres to their first-ever World Series appearance. Three seasons later Dravecky was traded to the Giants mid-season. That season he helped lead the Giants to a playoff matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals. Shortly thereafter his life was turned upside down – a cancerous desmoid tumor had been discovered in Dravevcky’s pitching arm midway through the 1988 season.
Dravecky underwent surgery that October to remove the tumor and half of his deltoid muscle. Doctors also froze his humerus bone in an attempt to rid his body of the cancerous cells. In the face of radiation treatments and his doctors imploring him to take his attempt at returning to a big league mound slow, Dravecky made a highly-publicized return to the Giants less than one year later on August 10, 1989. In his first start back Dravecky was the winning pitcher. In his second start, life as he had known it ended. On a pitch to Tim Raines in the fifth inning Dravecky’s humerus snapped, the sound echoing though Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
He would never throw another pitch after that. When the Giants clinched a trip to the World Series three months later, Dravecky broke his arm again in the ensuing on-field celebration. Following that season, Dravecky won the Hutch Award and the Willie Mac Award, the former annually given to a major leaguer who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson by persevering through adversity, and the latter named in honor of Willie McCovey annually given to the most inspirational player on the Giants. Following the 1989 season doctors discovered that Dravecky’s cancer had returned in the form of a malignant tumor.
By 1991 Dravecky’s arm, shoulder blade and part of his clavicle had to be amputated to preserve the rest of his body and his life. Since then he has embarked on a career as a motivational speaker, turning the loss of his childhood dream into a platform to share hope with the suffering around the world. Through his presentations Dravecky educates how to navigate loss and suffering, and how to experience encouragement and hope.
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