Thursday, July 15, 2010

Great Moments in American Sports - Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott was a baseball pitcher, who played for eleven years in the majors despite having been born without a right hand. He played for the California Angels, the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999. He played his college ball for the University of Michigan and became the first baseball player to win the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's best amateur athlete in 1987. He followed that up with a gold medal in the demonstration event at the 1988 Summer Olympics. He was then drafted in the first round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft and reached the Majors the next year.

It was an amazing thing to watch him pitch and even more amazing to watch him field. Many teams tried to exploit his handicap by bunting on him. This tactic never worked as he was quite a proficient fielder. When preparing to pitch the ball, Abbott would rest a right-handed thrower's glove on the end of his right forearm. After releasing the pitch, he would quickly slip his hand into the glove, and be ready for balls hit back up the middle. After fielding the ball, he would remove the glove by holding it between his right forearm and chest, slip his hand out of the glove, and take the ball from the glove, usually in time to throw out the runner and sometimes even start double plays. It was almost magical and certainly inspirational to behold. When your kids say I can't, show them a youtube video of Jim Abbott and tell them that "can't means won't" as my Dad used to tell me.

Abbott had many great moments that I could share, but perhaps his greatest was on September 4th, 1993. While pitching for the New York Yankees, Abbott pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. Imagine that, a guy who was born with only one hand in the NY Yankees pinstripes, pitching a no-hitter. That would seem a bit unrealistic even in Hollywood, but it really happened. You could look it up! Or just take a moment and watch the video.

1 comment:

  1. Jim Abbott is a true inspiration to me. It is amazing what he has done. Truly amazing.