Jim Abbott was born, Sept. 19, 1967, in Flint, Michigan without a right hand. He was an All-American hurler at Michigan; won the Sullivan Award in 1987; threw 4-0 no-hitter for NY Yankees vs. Cleveland (Sept. 4, 1993). Jim Abbott played for 10 seasons on 4 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999. Today, in addition to being a Guest Pitching Instructor during Spring Training for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker. He is 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.
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, Jim Abbott proved his doubters wrong by winning 12 games with a 3.92 ERA in his rookie season.
Jim 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 and he won the U. S. Baseball Federation’s Golden Spikes award as the best amateur player in the country.
Jim 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 first United States gold medal in Olympic Baseball competition.
On the mound, Jim 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.
His most famous highpoint is perhaps throwing a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in 1993. Jim 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.
Today, Jim Abbott is a professional motivational speaker. He has been featured numerous magazines including Time and Sports Illustrated; and has appeared on several shows including ESPN, Good Morning America and CNN.
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.
Jim Abbott lives in California with his wife, two children and their dog Billie.