Dave Dravecky

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Dave Dravecky
Born: (1956-02-14) February 14, 1956 (age 63)
Youngstown, Ohio
Batted: RightThrew: Left
MLB debut
June 15, 1982, for the San Diego Padres
Last MLB appearance
August 15, 1989, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Win–Loss record 64–57
Earned run average 3.13
Strikeouts 558
Career highlights and awards

David Francis Dravecky (born February 14, 1956) is an American former professional baseball player, a motivational speaker, and an author. He played Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres (1982–87) and San Francisco Giants (1987–89). Cancer ended his career as his team was reaching the 1989 World Series. He won the Hutch Award in 1989.

Professional baseball is played in leagues throughout the world. In these leagues and associated farm teams, baseball players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

San Diego Padres Baseball Team and Major League Baseball franchise in San Diego, California, United States

The San Diego Padres are an American professional baseball team based in San Diego, California. The Padres compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) West division. Founded in 1969, the Padres have won two NL pennants — in 1984 and 1998, losing in the World Series both years. As of 2018, they have had 14 winning seasons in franchise history. The Padres are one of two Major League Baseball teams in California to originate from that state; the Athletics were originally from Philadelphia, and the Dodgers and Giants are originally from two New York City boroughs – Brooklyn and Manhattan, respectively. The Padres are the only major professional sports franchise to be located in San Diego, following the relocation of the Chargers to Los Angeles in 2017. The Padres are the only MLB team that does not share its city with another major league professional sports franchise.



Early career

A left-handed pitcher, Dravecky represented the Padres at the All-Star game in 1983, his second season, in which he won 14 games. Equally proficient as a starter or coming out of the bullpen, Dravecky helped the Padres to their first pennant the following year.

Pitcher the player responsible for throwing ("pitching") the ball to the batters in a game of baseball or softball

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

The 1983 San Diego Padres season was the 15th season in franchise history. The team finished with an 81–81 record, excluding a tied game that was not included in the standings. They scored 653 runs and allowed 653 runs for a run differential of zero.

1983 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1983 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 54th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on Wednesday, July 6, 1983, at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 13-3. The game celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the All-Star Game, and occurred exactly 50 years to the date of the first All-Star game. This was the 54th game as no game was held in 1945, and two were held each year from 1959 through 1962.

Dravecky became friends with two other Padres pitchers, Mark Thurmond and Eric Show, who also held strong Christian beliefs. In the spring of 1984, Show recruited the other two to the John Birch Society, a far right US political group, and the three were widely reported on after they distributed Birch literature from a booth at the June 1984 Del Mar Fair. [1] [2] [3] Dravecky stated he saw Birch beliefs as the "natural outgrowth" of a born-again Christian philosophy. [4] Over his first six seasons, Dravecky had a 60-55 win–loss record, and the Associated Press wrote that he was better known for his association with the John Birch Society than his pitching. [5]

Mark Anthony Thurmond is a former professional baseball player who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1983 to 1990. He was never on the disabled list in his career.

Eric Show American baseball player

Eric Vaughn Show was a Major League Baseball player who played for most of his career with the San Diego Padres. The pitcher holds the Padres record for most career wins, and he was a member of the first Padres team to play in the World Series. On September 11, 1985, he surrendered Pete Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd career hit. Show's later life was affected by drug abuse. He was found dead in his room at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in 1994.

The John Birch Society (JBS) is an advocacy group supporting anti-communism and limited government. It has been described as a radical right and far-right organization.

On July 4, 1987, the San Francisco Giants acquired Dravecky, pitcher Craig Lefferts, and third baseman Kevin Mitchell from the San Diego Padres for pitchers Mark Grant and Mark Davis and third baseman Chris Brown for their pennant drive. He went 7–5 during the stretch, and in the playoffs pitched a shutout in Game 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals and lost Game 6 by a score of 1–0. The Cards won in seven games.

San Francisco Giants Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in San Francisco, California, United States

The San Francisco Giants are an American professional baseball team based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 1883 as the New York Gothams, and renamed three years later the New York Giants, the team eventually moved to San Francisco in 1958. The Giants compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) West division.

Craig Lindsay Lefferts is a former relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and California Angels between 1983 and 1994.

Kevin Mitchell (baseball) American baseball player

Kevin Darnell Mitchell is an American former Major League Baseball left fielder. A two-time All-Star and the 1989 NL MVP, he became widely known not only for his occasional brilliance on the field, but also for his unpredictable and sometimes volatile behavior off the field.

While with the Giants, Dravecky and teammates Scott Garrelts, Atlee Hammaker, and Jeff Brantley became known as the "God Squad" because of their strong Christian faith. Disdaining the hard-partying lifestyle of many of their teammates, they preferred to hold Bible studies in their hotel rooms while on the road. [6]

Scott William Garrelts, is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the San Francisco Giants from 1982 to 1991. Garrelts's best year as a Giant came during the 1989 season when he went 14-5 with a 2.28 ERA, leading his team to the World Series against their Bay Area rivals, the Oakland Athletics.

Atlee Hammaker American baseball player

Charlton Atlee Hammaker is a former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher who played the majority of his career for the San Francisco Giants, from 1982 to 1990. He also played for the Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. During his twelve-year career, he won 59 games, lost 67 games and netted five saves.

Jeff Brantley American baseball player

Jeffrey Hoke Brantley, is an American former professional baseball relief pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 14 seasons, from 1988 to 2001. Brantley currently is a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds.

Crisis and comeback

The following season, a cancerous desmoid tumor was found in Dravecky's pitching arm. On October 7, 1988, he underwent surgery, which removed half of the deltoid muscle in his pitching arm and froze the humerus bone in an effort to eliminate all of the cancerous cells. Doctors advised Dravecky to wait until 1990 to pitch again, but Dravecky was determined to pitch in 1989. [7] [8] By July 1989, he was pitching in the minors, and on August 10, he made a highly publicized return to the major leagues, pitching eight innings and defeating Cincinnati 4–3. [9] In his following start, five days later in Montreal, Dravecky pitched three no-hit innings, but in the fifth inning, he felt a tingling sensation in his arm. In the sixth inning, he started off shaky, allowing a home run to the leadoff batter and then hitting the second batter, Andrés Galarraga. Then, on his first pitch to Tim Raines, his humerus bone snapped; the sound of it breaking could be heard throughout the stadium. Dravecky collapsed on the mound. He'd suffered a clean break midway between his shoulder and elbow, ending his season. [8]

Deltoid muscle human shoulder muscle

The deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the human shoulder. It is also known as the 'common shoulder muscle', particularly in other animals such as the domestic cat. Anatomically, it appears to be made up of three distinct sets of fibers though electromyography suggests that it consists of at least seven groups that can be independently coordinated by the nervous system.

The Cincinnati Reds' 1989 season consisted of the Cincinnati Reds attempting to win the National League West for the first time since 1979. The season was defined by allegations of gambling by Pete Rose. Before the end of the season, Rose was banned from baseball by commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti.

The 1989 Montreal Expos season was the 21st season of the baseball franchise. With owner Charles Bronfman thinking of selling the team he founded, he contemplated taking one last shot at a playoff berth. Bronfman gave young general manager Dave Dombrowski a clear mandate to win now, reportedly telling him he would provided all the money needed in the quest to bring a championship to Montreal in 1989. Dombrowski pulled off a massive trade on May 25, acquiring star left-handed pitcher – and pending free agent – Mark Langston from the Seattle Mariners. While the move was viewed as a coup at the time, it came at a heavy cost as a young, very tall and very raw Randy Johnson was the key part of the package going to the Pacific Northwest. Johnson would eventually harness his fantastic stuff and became one of the game's most dominant left-handed pitchers for well over a decade. Langston pitched 4 months for the club and left as a free agent. Still, it seemed like a worthy gamble at the time for the Expos. That year, there was no dominant team in the National League. The team seemed poised to compete for the NL East crown with a loaded starting pitching staff that featured Langston, Dennis Martínez, Bryn Smith, Pascual Perez and Kevin Gross.

The Giants won the National League pennant in 1989 (defeating the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS in five games), and in the post-game celebration, Dravecky's arm was broken a second time when he was running out to the mound to celebrate. [10] A doctor examining Dravecky's x-rays noticed a mass in his arm, which turned out to be malignant. Dravecky's cancer had returned, ending his career. Eighteen days later, Dravecky retired from baseball with a 64–57 record with 558 strikeouts and a 3.13 ERA in 1,062⅔ innings. He won the 1989 Willie Mac Award honoring his spirit and leadership.

Retirement and later career

After two more surgeries, his left arm continued to deteriorate, and on June 18, 1991, less than two years after his comeback with the Giants, Dravecky's left arm and shoulder were amputated. After recovering from the surgery, Dravecky went on to begin a new career as a motivational speaker.

Dravecky wrote two books about his battles with cancer and his comeback attempt: Comeback, published in 1990 and written with Tim Stafford, and When You Can't Come Back, coauthored with wife Jan and Ken Gire and published in 1992. He has also written a Christian motivational book, "Called Up", published in 2004 by Zondervan. With the help of Stafford, Dravecky saw Comeback republished as a self-titled autobiography for children in 1992.


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  1. "The tortured life of Eric Show", September 11, 2010, by Tom Friend, ESPN. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  2. "All's Right With His World", by Franz Lidz, Sports Illustrated , August 6, 1984. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  3. "Making a pitch for the Birchers", Dan Donovan, The Pittsburgh Press , July 9, 1984. Retrieved from Google News May 23, 2013.
  4. "Dravecky Joins 'Birch Society'", Associated Press, Youngstown Vindicator , July 10, 1984. Retrieved from Google News May 23, 2013.
  5. "Giants sending Dravecky to the mound in Series bid", Associated Press, Eugene Register-Guard , October 13, 1987. Also published as "Dravecky Has Made Impact", Associated Press, Sarasota Herald-Tribune , October 13, 1987. Both retrieved from Google News May 23, 2013.
  6. Dravecky, Dave (2004). Called Up: Stories of Life and Faith from the Great Game of Baseball. Zondervan. p. 162. ISBN   031087159X.
  7. Thomas, Robert (August 9, 1989). "Dravecky is Back on Center Stage". New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  8. 1 2 Thomas, Robert (August 17, 1989). "Dravecky Was Told He Risked Fracture". New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  9. Associated Press (June 19, 1991). "SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL; Dravecky's Left Arm Amputated, Giants Say". New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  10. Associated Press (October 10, 1989). "Dravecky Hurt Again". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/19/sports/sports-news-briefs-dravecky-wins-hutch-award.html
  12. http://www.davedravecky.com/index.cfm/PageID/867/index.html
  13. http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/sf/history/awards.jsp