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Born, Sept.19, 1967, in Flint, Michigan without a right hand. He was an All-America hurler at Michigan; won Sullivan Award in 1987; threw 4-0 no-hitter for NY Yankees vs. Cleveland (September 4, 1993). Jim played for 10 seasons on four different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999. Today, in addition to being a Pitching Instructor for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker. Unique as a sports speaker because his story, and the way he delivers it, appeals to many types of audiences, even those who are not sports fans. In his keynotes, Jim Abbott uses motivational sports stories of how he overcame adversity, and anecdotes from his career as a professional baseball pitcher.
The Jim Abbott Story
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, Abbott proved his doubters wrong by winning 12 games with a 3.92 ERA in his rookie season.
On the mound, 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.
What perpared Jim Abbott for this type of success?
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, Abbott went to the University of Michigan on a baseball scholarship. Abbott 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, he 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 Abbott won the U. S. Baseball Federation's Golden Spikes award as the best amateur player in the country.
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. It was the United States first ever gold medal in Olympic Baseball competition.
He then joined the California Angels following the Olympics, beginning a tremendous Major League career, which included throwing a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in 1993.
His 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: March of Dimes Athlete of the Year (twice), Academy Awards of Sports, Courage Award, 1991 Victory Award recipient at the Kennedy Center Washington D.C., Freedom Forum's Free Spirit Award.
Today Jim 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.
Jim Abbott 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.
As a philanthropist, Jim Abbott donated 100,000 dollars to Amigos de los Ninos, an organization that aids groups that care for children in California.
He 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, Jim Abbott became a great baseball player and a great person. He learned to overcome adversity and be an inspiration to those around him.
“I just got back from the meeting and I have to tell you that we were all blown away by Jim. He did an incredible job. His story was moving, inspirational and the way he delivers his message is so powerful even though he is so soft spoken. Everyone from my CEO right down to the individual players, were truly moved by him. He is so humble and displays such a sense of humanity that I had many folks approach me afterward and tell me that they think they will be better people for having had the chance to meet and listen to Jim. People laughed and cried and all could relate in some fashion. But beyond all that, Jim was so gracious with his time. I personally enjoyed getting the chance to meet Jim and would recommend him to anyone. Please let Jim know how much I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed meeting him.”