In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The career of San Francisco Giants Lefty Dave Dravecky comes to an end as his arm snaps while delivering a pitch to Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium. Dravecky was making his second start in an attempted comeback from surgery to room a cancerous growth in his pitching arm. Dave Dravecky would get the win in his abbreviated final start as the Giants defeated the Expos 3-2.
Born on February 14, 1956, in Youngstown, Ohio, Dave Dravecky played baseball at Youngstown State. A 21st round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dravecky got his chance to pitch in the majors in 1982 a year after being traded to the San Diego Padres in a minor league deal at the start of the 1981 season. Pitching mostly out of the bullpen, Dave Dravecky posted a record of 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA. A year later he represented San Diego at the All-Star Game as he went 14-10 with a 3.58 ERA. In 1984, he split his time between starting and the bullpen as he helped the Padres make it to the World Series. Dravecky would play parts of six seasons for the Padres posting a record of 53-50 with a 3.12 ERA.
On June 4, 1987, Dave Dravecky was part of a blockbuster deal between the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. Dravecky was sent to the Giants with Craig Lefferts and Kevin Mitchell for Chris Brown, Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant. After struggling the early part of the season, Dravecky had a strong second half posting a record of 7-5 to help the Giants win the Western Division.
The following season Dave Dravecky made just seven starts as a cancerous tumor was discovered in his pitching arm. On October 7, 1988, he underwent surgery removing half of deltoid muscle as doctors froze his humerus bone in efforts to rid his body of cancer. Doctors advised Dravecky to take the entire 1989 season off but he was determined to make a quick comeback as the Giants were in a pennant race. After beginning his rehab assignment in July, Dave Dravecky made a triumphant return to Candlestick Park on August 10, 1989. Over his first seven innings, Dravecky allowed just one hit before tiring in the eighth. When his day was finished he allowed just three runs on four hits, while striking out five batters in eight innings to earn the win as the Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3.
Making his second start against the Montreal Expos, Dave Dravecky was just as sharp as he allowed three hits over his first five innings and held a 3-0 lead. Dravecky who did not allow a hit over the first three innings began to feel a tingle in his arm in the fifth inning. In the sixth inning, Damaso Garcia led off with a home run to make it 3-1. The next batter was Andreas Galarraga who was hit by a pitch. Tim Raines came to the plate next and what followed was one of the most disturbing scenes in baseball history. On his first pitch to Raines, an audible snapping sound was heard as the ball went to the backstop. Galarraga advanced all the way to third on the wild pitch as the Giants concern turned to Dravecky who was down on the ground holding his arm. Andres Galarraga would score on a sacrifice fly by Raines as Dravecky’s final line read five innings pitched, four hits, two runs, and three walks, with no strikeouts as he earned the win as the Giants held on to beat Montreal 3-2.
Dave Dravecky was diagnosed with a clean break midway between his shoulder and elbow ending his season. The Giants would go on to win reach the World Series, in a sad postscript, Dave Dravecky broke his arm again as the Giants celebrated their NLCS victory over the Chicago Cubs. Upon examining his arm, it was determined the tumor had returned forcing him to retire. Dave Dravecky would retire with a lifetime record of 64-57 with an ERA of 3.13. Over the next two years he would undergo a series of surgeries, but in the end, he would have to his left arm amputated. In the years since losing his arm, Dave Dravecky became an author and a Christian motivational speaker telling the story how he learned to live with losing his limp and continuing a successful life.