An Unexpected Gift – Dave Dravecky

August 10, 2016

Two years ago marked the 25th anniversary of my retirement from baseball—that fateful day when I broke my arm in Montreal. Around Christmas time that year, I received a package in the mail. Inside was a letter from David Kaufman, who was the CEO of a company in Montreal at the time when I broke my arm and ended my career.


He explained in his letter that the day that our team had gone to play in Montreal 25 years ago, he knew that I was coming to town and he was interested in my story. He knew that I had just come back from my surgery and wanted to see me play so he bought a ticket to that game. He was sitting right next to the dugout during the sixth inning when I threw the infamous pitch, which broke my arm.


While the crowd was silent and every eye was focused on the pitcher on the ground in the middle of the field, the ball rolled into the dugout.


“I noticed the ball roll into the dugout and watched the bat boy pick it up,” David told me. “I asked him if he would give it to me and he threw me the ball… I don’t know why I didn’t send this to you earlier but here is the last pitch you ever threw.”


And in the box was an old baseball.


That day Jan and I were speechless, we have no words to describe the emotions and memories that came flooding back into our lives. Ever since that day two years ago, I have brought that baseball with me everywhere that I go to tell my story.


God’s timing is perfect. Receiving that gift 25 years after I broke my arm was exactly the encouragement that I needed that day. Many years prior, Jan and I realized that baseball is a platform that God has given us to share Christ’s love with those who hurt. But there are times when we have doubted that our story can have an impact. That’s what we were struggling with at that time in our lives when we received that unexpected package. We were trying to trust God but fighting through doubts such as, “Is this worth it? Am I having an impact?” But through little encouragements such as the letter and gift from David Coffman, God has showed us that staying the course is the right move. God has been so faithful over these past 27 years to show us these reminders to trust Him and continue to live and tell this story.  


Receiving this ball 25 years later was a significant reminder to stay the course.


Fast-Forward Two Years…


A few weeks ago, Major League Baseball invited Jan and me to All-Star week. This was the first year that we’ve been back for an All-Star game in 13 years, so we really enjoyed going to San Diego to watch the game and experience all the festivities that went with it.


There were a few really special things that happened that week for me, and they weren’t all at the ballpark. One of those times happened when I was sitting at the pool with a former teammate and I saw a man with his wife and two kids walking toward me to leave and I thought I recognized him. I got up from my chair and approached him.


“Tim?” I called out. “Tim Raines? It’s Dave Dravecky.”


Once he recognized who I was, he looked a little shocked at first and then we started talking. I shared the story with him about the baseball that I received two Christmases ago. The reason I shared this story with him was because Tim was the last batter that I ever pitched to. He was at the plate when my arm broke.


To see Tim at the pool that day was almost as if God was saying to me, “I’m not bringing closure to this chapter, because it’s been so significant in your life; instead I’m bringing it full circle.”

Dave Dravecky and Tim Raines

When I saw Tim that day, I was so excited that I looked at him like a little kid and said, “Is it ok if I take a picture with you?”  That photo means a lot to me because it reminds me of all the things that God has done in my life—all that He has brought me through. This was a very special gift.


Just prior to the game in Montreal in 1989 when my career came to an abrupt end, one of my teammates looked at me and said:


“It’s not the miracle of the comeback that’s so important, Dave,” said my teammate, Bob Knepper, “It’s the miracle of salvation that occurred in your life back in 1981 when you came to know Jesus. God is preparing a platform through baseball for you to share His love with those who hurt.”


I see this truth play out in my life every day. I know that God’s not finished using this story in my life and I can’t wait to experience the new surprises that are to come out of it.


“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” —2 Corinthians 12:9


—Dave Dravecky


Dave Dravecky is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.


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