A leaky seal on the input shaft maybe. Water tends to get in around the input shaft. Corrosion sets in, causing a leak problem when corrosion is located at the seal. It will get worse, so they tell me.
would this be due to the fact that I had heated up my pitman arm a while back and now I have play in my steering wheel? Or can the steering play be due to the bushing at the middle of the steering rod?
I would guess worn steering box. There is an adjustment there, I believe, there is on mine. Those steering boxes (for the 1999 - Saginaw boxes likely) should be readily available and not that expensive rebuilt.
Here's some information on rebuilding a Saginaw steering box for a Dodge. Saginaw Steering Box Rebuild
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