Card: 1984 Topps #290
David Francis Dravecky (born February 14, 1956 in Youngstown, OH) is a 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.
A left-handed pitcher, Dave represented the Padres at the All-Star game in 1983, his second season, in which he won 14 games. Equally proficient as a starter and coming out of the bullpen, he helped the Padres to their first pennant the following year.
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.
While with the Giants, Dave and teammates Scott Garrelts, Atlee Hammaker, and Jeff Brantley became known as the "God Squad" because of their strong Christian faith.
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 him to wait until 1990 to pitch again, but he was determined to pitch in 1989.
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. 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.
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. 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.
In two postseasons (1984/Padres, 1987/Giants) he pitched 25 innings, going 1-1 with a 0.35 ERA and a .662 WHIP.
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. Twenty-seven years later, Dravecky said he felt the amputation saved his life. He calls himself the “One-armed Bandit” and travels the country as a motivational and inspirational speaker.
In his Letters from Home Plate response, Dave lists Sandy Koufax and Vida Blue as his favorite players growing up, and Tim Raines as the toughest hitter he ever faced (and the last he faced before breaking his arm in Montreal).
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. His uncle, Andy Dravecky, was a catcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates chain in 1946-1949
Dave Dravecky is part of the Topps Card Tour – 1984 Topps – Go to the Next Stop
Dave is part of the All-Star Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Dave is also part of the New York/SF Giants Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
See all Dave’s baseball cards at TCDB
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