IT CARRIED THE WATER
It was the strangest birdie in the 24-year history of the Valencia (Calif.) Country Club. Two club employees found a dead pigeon near the driving range. A band on the bird's leg read 88 SEOUL, indicating that the bird was one of 2,400 pigeons released 6,000 miles away at the Olympic opening ceremonies last September.
"It's pretty unlikely that it made a transpacific passage on its own," says John Trapp, an ornithologist with the U.S. Office of Migratory Bird Management in Arlington, Va. "There are a couple of places, like the Hawaiian Islands, where the bird could have made land while coming across. Or perhaps it was a ship-assisted passage."
That noted, we prefer to let our minds soar and think of it as an Olympian effort.
ARMED WITH A MIRACLE
When Pitcher Dave Dravecky walked into the San Francisco Giants clubhouse in spring training, teammate Kevin Mitchell looked at Dravecky's left arm and said, "My god, it looks like Jaws took a bite out of you!" Mitchell wasn't joking. Last October a surgeon removed a cancerous tumor—and half of the deltoid muscle surrounding it—from Dravecky's pitching arm. The surgeon told Dravecky his six-year major league career was over, and no one—save Dravecky and his wife, Jan—doubted that prognosis.
Dravecky, 33, put his faith in God and grueling therapy sessions. He lifted weights and modified his throwing style to derive power from his shoulder and body instead of his arm. His fastball crept back over 80 mph. He rediscovered his control and deft ability to change speeds. Dravecky was a pitcher reborn.
On Thursday came the clincher. Dravecky took the mound at Candlestick Park for his first big league start since May 1988, and he beat Cincinnati 4-3. A crowd of 34,810 gave Dravecky more than half a dozen standing ovations. Jan cried and cried. "I've been in five World Series," said San Francisco manager Roger Craig later. "I've seen Don Larsen pitch a perfect game. But I don't think I've seen a game with as much excitement as there was out there today."
Dravecky hit speeds as high as 88 on the radar gun, walked only one batter and took a one-hit shutout into the eighth inning, when he hung a slider that Reds second baseman Luis Quinones belted for a three-run homer. Dravecky was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth, prompting a thunderous curtain call. He stepped out of the dugout, waved thanks and then punched a fist—the left one—in the air.
Dravecky said he hadn't felt nervous, that he had worked out any jitters in three performances for Giants farm teams in late July and early August. Because of injuries to other starting pitchers, the Giants will count on Dravecky to help keep them in first place in the National League West. That's fine with Dravecky. As San Francisco catcher Terry Kennedy put it after Thursday's game, "It was like he'd never been away."