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Dravecky's arm to be amputated

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Former San Francisco pitcher Dave Dravecky will have his left arm amputated next Tuesday to alleviate chronic infection and nerve damage, the Giants announced Wednesday. The surgery will be performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Dravecky, 35, the author of one of baseball's great comeback stories, has undergone three previous operations to remove cancerous tumors from the arm, most recently in May 1990.

"It is likely that the cancer has recurred in Dave's arm," said Dr. Murray Brennan, who will remove the arm at the shoulder. Brennan said the treatment will relieve the pain Dravecky has been experiencing in recent weeks and is required by a recurring staph infection.

Brennan said the cancer has not spread beyond the arm.

"My wife, Jan, and I are at peace right now," Dravecky said in a statement.

"We know that there is a reason for everything. This is for the best. Life goes on. My goal is to be back on the lecture circuit by mid-July, and I will continue with my life just as before. My thanks to everyone for their prayers."

Dravecky had been worried about losing the arm last winter, but he made an announcement through his attorney on Dec. 14 that no amputation was necessary at that time. Dravecky made the statement after a visit that day to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Dravecky drove from his home in Ohio to see the Giants last week when they were in Pittsburgh. Some of his former teammates said then it was apparent his arm was causing significant pain.

Dravecky's dramatic comeback from cancer in 1989 had made him one of sport's great stories.

He was the winning pitcher just 10 months after undergoing his first surgery when doctors removed 50 percent of the major pitching muscle in his left arm. On Aug. 10, 1989, following strenous rehabilitation, Dravecky pitched seven shutout innings and beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 in his first outing of the year.

But five days later, Dravecky broke his left arm while pitching against Montreal. The bone healed and Dravecky was considering another comeback until the arm was broken again, this time in an on-field celebration with his teammates when the Giants won the National League pennant.

He retired at the end of the season and wrote a book about his comeback and has devoted himself to a new career speaking to church and convention groups about the role of faith in his recovery.