Dravecky honored on 20th anniversary of comeback

Aug 11, 2009 - 2:43 AM By JOSH DUBOW AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO(AP) -- Twenty years after his comeback from cancer, Dave Dravecky once again got a standing ovation as he walked onto the field in a San Francisco Giants jersey and threw a pitch.

Only this time, the pitch was ceremonial and thrown with his right arm, instead of the left - which was amputated two years after a memorable day.

Dravecky was honored Monday night on the 20th anniversary of his comeback, throwing out the first pitch for former teammate Will Clark before the Giants took on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dravecky pitched eight innings to beat Cincinnati in his comeback game on Aug. 10, 1989, 10 months after have surgery to remove a malignant growth from his pitching arm. The memory of the game still gives chills to those who were at Candlestick Park that day.

"The game was amazing," Dravecky said. "You never expect what happened. You can't anticipate those types of things. As far as the game was concerned, going out there and the standing ovations. When I went into the bullpen people started standing and cheering."

Five days later at Montreal, Dravecky's surgery-weakened upper left arm snapped as he threw a pitch, and he fell to the mound in pain. Two months later, it broke again during a celebration after the Giants' playoff-clinching game against the Chicago Cubs.

Dravecky never pitched again. After additional surgeries and radiation treatments, Dravecky's left arm was amputated in 1991. He said he has no regrets about making the comeback.

"I couldn't walk way from the game when I was told I had cancer and not try to come back," he said. "If I had to live with that for the rest of my life, I probably would have ended up being miserable so I had no choice but to try. ... I couldn't quit. I'm not a quitter. I couldn't walk away. I had to make every attempt to pitch again. I'm so thankful that I was able to come back and pitch. That was an amazing gift."

Dravecky, who had a 64-57 lifetime record in the major leagues, lives in Colorado, where he runs Dave Dravecky's Outreach Of Hope, an organization devoted to encouraging cancer patients and amputees. He delivers more than 20 motivational speeches a year, telling the story of his comeback and subsequent setback. He said he still loves retelling the events from 20 years ago.

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