Summer 2024

Former MLB pitcher Dave Dravecky recalls devastating final pitch from 28 years ago

In 1988, Dave Dravecky was 32 years old and at the top of his game as a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. He was playing at the highest level of professional baseball, a game he loved since he was a little boy. But all of that came to a screeching halt in the Fall of 1988 when doctors discovered he had cancer in his arm. Half of the deltoid muscle in his pitching arm had to be removed. Doctors said he would never pitch again.

On August 10, 1989, after not pitching for 15 months, Dravecky proved the doctors wrong and returned to the mound. It was a glorious day that saw Dave pitch 8 innings, allowing just four hits, three runs and striking out five in leading the Giants to a 4-3 win over Cincinnati.

Everything seemed aligned for Dravecky to be a mainstay for the Giants pitching staff the rest of the year, a season that would eventually see San Francisco win the National League Championship.

But 28 years ago today, August 15, 1989, the dream turned back into a nightmare.

The Giants were on the road, facing the Montreal Expos, and up 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Dravecky was making his second start since returning from cancer. He had faced two batters in the inning, giving up a home run to Damaso Garcia and hitting Andres Gallaraga.

With Tim Raines up to bat, Dravecky’s next pitch went wild and to the backstop.

It would be the last pitch Dave Dravecky would ever throw.

His arm snapped and in November of 1989, Dravecky retired from Major League Baseball at the age of 33.

Dravecky addressed the impact of that last pitch in an Instagram post today.

“27 years ago on this day, August 15th I threw the last pitch I would ever throw as a SF Giant. To think 5 days earlier I was on a tremendous high after defeating the Cincinnati Reds 4-3. Life has a way of throwing us a curve ball every now and then and that certainly was one for us. If I’ve learned anything over these past 27 years through the struggles it’s been this, at the core of most human beings is goodness, genuine goodness. And God used many of you to help Jan, our kids, JD and Tiffany and me see that goodness through your prayers and love for us. We are forever grateful to God for all of you and you know who you are.
Because of your support through your prayers and love this story and journey, although not easy, has been very sweet. We’ve experienced God’s grace in so many wonderful ways which has sustained us and given us the strength to endure! You the fans are #ForeverGiants You the fans have helped us to see we are #StrongerTogether
From the bottom of our hearts thank you for loving us so well.
The baseball in the photo is the last pitch I threw in my career.”

Dravecky’s cancer came back after he retired, and ultimately, he had to have his arm, along with his shoulder blade and the left side of my collarbone amputated for fear that the cancer would spread and potentially end his life.

You can watch Dave share his story of hope and purpose below. 

Dave Dravecky is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. You can read his articles here: