Former pitcher to deliver speaker series lecture

One career ended and another began with the tragic amputation of his left arm, shoulder blade and part of his left collarbone.

Dave Dravecky, cancer survivor, author and former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, will be speaking at SHSU on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Killinger Auditorium of the Beto Criminal Justice Center.

Dravecky’s lecture, part of the President’s Speaker Series established by university president James Gaertner, will last for one hour, with a 15-minute question and answer session at the end.

A signing of Dravecky’s books will also take place following the program.

“Barnes and Noble will be selling books, and (Dravecky) will be signing them after the lecture,” said Maggie E. Babcock, special events coordinator and organizer of the President’s Speaker Series at SHSU.

“We’re expecting at least 400,” said Babcock about the anticipated attendance for the event.

She said two overflow rooms will be provided in case overcrowding is an issue. The overflow rooms are the Strecher and Bates rooms in the CJ center.

Dravecky, 46, has been a baseball fan from the beginning. After growing up in Ohio and graduating from Youngstown State University in 1978 the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Dravecky. He played both double and triple A baseball before joining the majors with the San Diego Padres in 1982.

In 1984, Dravecky pitched for the Padres during the World Series and National League Championships. In 1987 Dravecky was traded to the San Francisco Giants.

By the spring of 1988, Dravecky had a promising career in baseball, which wavered when doctors discovered a desmoid tumor in his arm. The tumor would force Dravecky to remove half of the deltoid muscle tissue in his left arm, his pitching arm

Despite the surgery, months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, Dravecky returned to baseball, again as a pitcher for the Giants. His first game back the Giants won against the Cincinnati Reds 4-3.

With a reassuring initial game behind him, Dravecky went on to pitch the next game against Montreal a week later. Following breaking his arm, he left and rejoined the team again in October. After soon breaking his arm a second time he learned the cancer was back.

This time, despite countless efforts with rehabilitation and radiation therapy, Dravecky got a complicated staph infection in his arm, and was forced to amputate his pitching arm, left shoulder blade and part of his left collarbone.

Dravecky admirably left his career as a pitcher in major league baseball and pursued a career in motivational speaking.

After writing two motivational books at two very different times in life, Dravecky now tours the United States speaking to diverse groups about encouragement, suffering, inspiration and motivation.

Dravecky’s first book, “Comeback,” covered his first struggles with the tumor in his arm, and his return to the pitching mound. His second book, “When You Can’t Come Back,” highlighted his experiences after the loss of his arm.

“We look for someone who’s really motivational; we want a message of value and we like people who have challenges in life,” said Babcock on how SHSU chooses its guest lecturers. “Once you have those challenges, you can draw strength for life.”

All members of SHSU faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the lecture. There is no charge for admission to the event.

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