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Inspiration | Personal Development | Sports | Motivation
Jim Abbott has battled the odds his entire life. Despite being born with only one hand he was the 15th player to ever make a professional debut in the Major Leagues. Many considered the move a publicity stunt by manager Doug Rader, but after struggling early, he proved his doubters wrong by winning 12 games with a 3.92 ERA in his rookie season.
On the mound, Mr. Abbott wore a right-hander's fielder's glove at the end of his right arm. While completing his follow-through after delivering a pitch, he rapidly switched the glove to his left hand so he could handle any balls hit back to him. In that first 1989 season as a professional he won more games as a rookie than any other previous player without Major League experience.
Jim Abbott spent hours as a youngster bouncing a ball off a wall to practice fielding as well as throwing. He was the starting quarterback on his high school football team, which went to the finals of the Michigan state championship, and he showed enough promise as a pitcher to be drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays shortly after graduation.
However, Mr. Abbott went to the University of Michigan on a baseball scholarship. He led the Wolverines to Big Ten titles in his freshmen and junior years and won the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to the outstanding college baseball player in the United States. He had a career record of 26 wins and 8 losses at the school.
As a member of Team USA in 1987, Jim Abbott became the first American pitcher in 25 years to beat a Cuban team on Cuban soil. The team won a silver medal at the Pan-American Games and he won the U. S. Baseball Federation's Golden Spikes award as the best amateur player in the country.
Mr. Abbott participated in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, pitching a complete game seven hitter, leading the United States to the Gold Medal in a 5-3 victory over Japan. The United States first ever, gold medal in Olympic Baseball competition.
Jim Abbott then joined the California Angels following the Olympics. He made his pro debut in spring training and made it to the Major Leagues without playing in the minor leagues, which was the beginning of a tremendous Major League career. His most famous highpoint is perhaps throwing a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in 1993.
Mr. Abbott's baseball achievements include the Sullivan Award (best amateur athlete in the United States), male athlete of the year for the 1988 Olympic Games, and many awards at Michigan including the Jesse Owens Athlete of the year.
But the awards that best define Jim Abbott would be those that exemplify courage and overcoming adversity such as March of Dimes Athlete of the Year (twice), the Academy Awards of Sports, Courage Award, the 1991 Victory Award recipient at the Kennedy Center Washington D.C., and the Freedom Forum's Free Spirit Award. He was invited to throw out the first pitch at game 7 of the 2002 World Series and recently participated in his first Yankees Old Timers Day.
Today Mr. Abbott is a professional motivational speaker. He has been featured in USA Today, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated, Parade Magazine, People, and Baseball America. He has been featured during Olympic coverage, and has appeared on ESPN, Good Morning America, CNN, Larry King, Phil Donahue, George Michael Sports Machine, NBC Nightly News, ABC News Person of the Week, Late Night with David Letterman,and the ABC television series Boy Meets World.
As a philanthropist, Jim Abbott donated $100,000 to Amigos de los Ninos, an organization that aids groups that care for children in California.
Jim Abbott is an inspiration to all that meet him or have followed his career. More than his no-hitter, his 13-strike out game, a seven game winning streak, overcoming an eleven game losing streak, he became a great baseball player and a great person. He learned to overcome adversity and be an inspiration to those around him. He lives in California with his wife, two children, and their dog.