Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dravecky Has Overcome Darkest Night

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dravecky Has Overcome Darkest Night

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

Dave Dravecky, sitting in his office in Colorado, listened as the quote was read to him.

He made the comment 11 years ago, not long after undergoing a 2 1/2-hour procedure to amputate his left arm and shoulder -- his pitching arm and shoulder.

"I feel like I lost a real good buddy. You know, this friend that had been attached to me all those years; that allowed me to do something that I enjoyed more than just about anything on this earth . . . that friend is gone. And all I have left are the memories. And the phantom pains. That's all that's left. There is so much frustration. I love to work outdoors, in the yard. I grab a shovel, I grab a rake, and now I have to think, 'How do I make this work?' "

What does he think when he hears that today? Does he still feel that frustration, that loss?

"In some respects," he said. "I always say I'd love to have my arm back for one day. I'd love to go up against Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds; face them in one inning. I'd love to be able to do that. But that feeling of loss certainly isn't as strong as it used to be. I've become very content with who I am."

And who is he?

You probably know who he was. Even if you've forgotten details of his career -- All-Star pitcher for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants -- you remember his last pitch, the one that, on Aug. 15, 1989, snapped his arm in two.

Five days earlier, he had made one of sports' most dramatic comebacks, returning from a 14-month layoff after doctors removed a cancerous tumor -- and a chunk of muscle from his pitching shoulder -- to one-hit the Reds through seven innings, drawing several standing ovations.

In his next start, while throwing a fastball to Tim Raines, his arm snapped.

You tell him that when people think of his story -- inevitably picturing him writhing on the ground after that pitch -- they feel sorry for him. …

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