Steve Garvey – Hip Replacement

Steve Garvey standing with his family.Home Run

By Mona de Crinis
By Erika Z. Byrd
Photography by Mark Davidson

Having played in 1,207consecutive Major League games, both for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, baseball great Steve Garvey earned the nickname “The Iron Man” for setting the National League record.

Today, the strength of this 10-time All-Star athlete also comes from titanium – DePuy titanium hip implants, to be exact.

In 1998, at age 50, Garvey had his left hip replaced via a traditional posterior procedure at UCLA Medical Center. In 2010, the years of professional baseball, along with general wear and tear, had finally affected his right hip, as well.

Having visited the desert for years, Garvey and his wife, Candace, and their three children – Ryan, 17, Olivia, 16, and Sean, 11 – moved to the desert full time in 2004. Garvey could have returned to UCLA or gone anywhere else for his hip surgery.

Steve Garvey and his wife.

The Institute of Clinical Orthopedics and Neurosciences (ICON) at Desert Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive orthopedic and neuroscience services, from diagnosis to treatment, under the direction of specialty-trained, board-certified physicians. Garvey underwent the procedure in July.

“At 61, Steve Garvey is still quite a physical specimen,” Dr. Stabile, Garvey’s orthopedic surgeon, notes. “He has done great following surgery and has a full range of motion in his right hip. I walked out of the OR very confident that he would be able to do whatever he wants to do following recovery”

The advantages of anterior over posterior hip replacement include a smaller incision and a faster recovery time, as the former does not involve cutting muscles or tendons to insert the implant. Patients are able to resume an active lifestyle and get back to the sports and hobbies they enjoy, with little to no limitations on their mobility.

“After the operation, I was in my room for about an hour and a therapist came in and asked ‘Are you ready?’ And I said, ‘For what?’ ‘To do some walking, if you can” Garvey recalls. “So Candace and the therapist got me up; and by the third step, I remembered the feeling I had after my first operation about the pain being gone. I walked 100 feet out and back. Then later, I did another lap; the next day, two or three laps; the following day; three laps. Then I left the hospital. I just walked out. I had no need for a cane or walker.

The therapist came to my home three to four times over the first two weeks, along with a nurse. Then I said, ‘I don’t need you guys anymore.’ By the third week, I was driving.”

A month following surgery, Garvey began lifting weights and exercising on an abductor machine. “I never had any real pain, just some aching” he says. “But that’s pretty normal for major surgery. At one month out this time, I was probably where I was with my previous hip surgery at about two and a half months.”

Garvey’s advice for people considering hip replacement is to have it done sooner rather than later.

Steve Garvey emitting confidence.

“There’s never a good time to do this,” he says. “Even in the summer, we have a lot of activities. I was going to put the surgery off until after Labor Day, but then I had a speech to give back east and then there’s [my stepdaughter’s] wedding, so I found two weeks when I didn’t have to fly and said, ‘Let’s do it now.’ It was a very good decision. It positively affects what I can do for the family – my ability to be a husband and father. It’s important to be conscious as an older dad and be sensitive to what your body tells you. I’d like to get another 25 to 30 years out of this body.

“This new procedure is less invasive. There’s very little pain, per se. The recovery time is significantly shorter than the posterior procedure; and your quality of life will increase significantly. Those four factors should convince anyone who is experiencing hip pain to make the decision, not only for them, but also for their family,” Garvey says.

“I’ve been on world championship teams, and the job [Desert Regional Medical Center] did was a world champion experience for me. It couldn’t have been a better experience. I highly recommend this procedure to others.”

Garvey not only amassed an illustrious baseball career, but also escaped the rigors of professional baseball with incredibly few injuries. “I had a hamate [bone] fracture and a torn ligament in my left thumb from sliding into home plate,” he says. “I also ruptured a tendon in my biceps and got hit in the chin once, and that required 22 stitches.” Years later, his left hip gave out.

A four-time winner of Major League Baseball’s Gold Glove, the former first baseman now dons a golf glove. He is a member of Indian Wells Country Club and plays golf in numerous corporate outings and charity tournaments. He also hosts the Steve Garvey Celebrity Softball Classic tournament in Los Angeles in July benefiting Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

A sought-after motivational speaker, Garvey is a hit with corporate audiences who enjoy hearing about his baseball days and the sports analogies he’s applied from success on the field to the corporate world and even to the game of life itself. His book – My Bat Boy Days, Lessons I Learned from the Boys of Summer –summarizes his key principles.

In addition to corporate speaking engagements, he runs Garvey Media Group, capitalizing on the connections he’s made over the years. He serves as a marketing consultant for several high-profile clients, including California Pizza Kitchen and Natural Balance Pet Foods. For the latter, he’s been busy working on a Rose Bowl Parade float, a blimp, and promoting Bark in the Park events at ballparks around the country. Bark in the Park allows dog owners to bring their dogs to the stadium to enjoy a pup rally, pup parade, prizes and an evening of baseball for charity. The Garvey’s English cocker spaniel, Charolette, even got a little air time this year, appearing with him on a Los Angeles news broadcast.

This year’s Bark in the Park at Dodger Stadium was held just a month after Garvey’s hip surgery. Part of his hosting responsibilities including walking Tillman, the famed skateboarding dog, onto center field and posting for photos. “The question was whether I’d be able to walk Tillman out,” he says, “but I could have done that easy two weeks after the surgery.”

Steve Garvey and his wife on a couch with their dog.

Garvey’s fitness routine involves exercising three to five days a week: stretching, weight lifting, stationery bicycle, golf, and occasional tennis. “[Good health] is a balance of eating properly, fitness, weight training, spending as much time with your family as possible, and laughing a lot,” he says.

The entire Garvey family is very athletic. “Candace is a good tennis play and skier. It’s not just dad’s genes. Speed comes from mom’s side of the family,” Garvey says. “All the girls have played volleyball and swim and ski. Sean is playing football for PDLQ Peewees and a traveling baseball team called the Desert Longhorns. Olivia is a Palm Desert High School varsity cheerleader and plays softball. Ryan plays varsity baseball for Palm Desert and several colleges and a few pro teams are interested in him; but it’s still a little early for that,” Garvey says.

Besides a swimming pool and fitness room, the Garvey home has something you find in your typical desert home; a batting cage. With three school-age children, along with visits from the Garvey’s grown children, the home bursts with activity.

“We’re the house for a lot of our kids’ friends and their teammates to hang out at, and we like that,” Garvey says smiling with pride. “We have a simple philosophy. We’re a Christian, loving family that believes we’ve been blessed and it’s important to give back to our community.” Garvey acknowledges that having a highly visible name from the world of sports helps.

“We try to do as much as we can,” he says.