By Dave Dravecky with Tim Stafford
Zondervan, 1990, 252 pages
After posting last week about the exploits of three Christian amigos on the 1984 San Diego Padres; Eric Show, Dave Dravecky, and Mark Thurmond (see here), I borrowed a copy of Dravecky’s book, “Comeback,” from our local library system.
Ever hear of Dave Dravecky? Well, EVERYBODY in America was talking about him thirty years ago in 1989.
Dravecky was drafted out of college by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978. He spent three years in the Bucs’ farm system before being traded to San Diego as a minor league prospect in 1981. Ex-Catholic Dravecky was playing in Amarillo, Texas for the Double-A Gold Sox when teammate, Byron Ballard, led him to the Lord. Praise God! Dravecky was called up to the Padres in 1982 and went on to help the Friars win the 1984 NL Pennant. Half-way through the 1987 season, the Padres traded Dravecky to the San Francisco Giants.
While he was with the Padres, Dravecky had noticed a small lump on the shoulder of his left throwing arm, but the Friars’ training staff told him just to keep an eye on it. During the 1988 season with the Giants, Dravecky started developing severe pain in his left shoulder and the lump seemed to be getting bigger. A biopsy was done and the lump was determined to be cancerous. The surgeons removed the tumor and about half of his left deltoid muscle in October, 1988. Many of the cells of the humerus arm bone were also deadened by the surgeon as a precaution. The doctors warned Dravecky that he would have trouble doing even simple things with his arm after surgery let alone ever pitch again in Major League Baseball.
But Dravecky was determined to pitch again and entered into an aggressive, year-long rehabilitation program. Defying all odds and medical science, Dravecky was reinstated to the Giants’ active roster and pitched on August 10, 1989, beating the Cincinnati Reds. Giants fans and the entire nation stood up and applauded Dravecky’s determination. On his following start, a week later against the Expos, Dravecky’s left humerus snapped while pitching. The bone was still weak from the surgical procedure of the previous year. If that weren’t enough, on October 10th, Dravecky’s left humerus was broken AGAIN when he became tangled up in an on-field celebration following the Giants’ victory over the Cubbies to clinch the 1989 NLCS.
This book concludes in 1990 with doctors determining that cancer had returned to Dravecky’s left shoulder and that he would finally be retiring from baseball. From other sources I learned that Dravecky had two more surgeries, but his left arm continued to deteriorate, and on June 18, 1991, Dravecky’s left arm and shoulder were amputated. But the Lord had plans for Dave and he began his thirty-year “career” of witnessing for the Lord and inspiring others as a motivational speaker.
I REALLY enjoyed this book! Dave praises the Lord throughout and gives Him the glory. But he’s also honest. Throughout his trials, Dave didn’t always have a smile on his face, but the Lord lifted him up again and again. I like that kind of transparency. As a Padres fan, I wish Dave had written more about his six seasons with the Friars. This book would have also been a good opportunity for Dravecky to address the 1984 controversy involving himself and teammates Eric Show and Mark Thurmond and their connection with the John Birch Society, but those are minor criticisms. Even non-sports fans will enjoy this testimony to Dravecky’s resolve fueled by God’s grace and salvation in Jesus Christ. After researching and writing last week’s post about the John Birch Society fiasco and Eric Show’s downward spiral, it was refreshing to read Dravecky’s uplifting testimony.
For more information on Dave Dravecky’s ministry, see the link below. The six-minute video at the bottom is also a blessing.
Endurance with Jan and Dave Dravecky