Friday, April 01, 2005

Jim Abbott: The One Handed Pitcher

Jim Abbott was living proof that ANYONE can do ANYTHING. Or at least he’s proof that a guy with one hand can be a pretty good baseball player.

Jim Abbot was born without a right hand but loved to play baseball. He was good at it. In fact, he was so good that after play college ball Michigan he was call directly up to the California Angels without a single game in the minor leagues.

Jim’s jump to the starting rotation back in 1989 turned quite a few heads. Many felt that the movie was a publicity stunt and at the beginning of the season they seemed to be right.

His season had a very rocky start and he wasn’t winning like the team had hoped. He was doing so poorly he couldn’t have scored with Madonna.

Oh wait, that didn’t make sense. He was a pitcher; the BATTERS were trying to score. Let me try again:

He was doing so poorly that the batters he pitched at could have scored with Madonna.

Nah, it just doesn’t work. Sorry to have wasted your time.

Anyway, Jim played much better as time went on and ended up faring pretty well at the end of his rookie season.

Seeing Jim Abbott pitch was really a sight to behold. He wore his glove on the stump as he threw and then would quickly put it on his throwing hand after releasing the ball. This would be so he could field any balls that came his way

He had a wonderful season in 1991 when he won 18 games for the Angels. A year later he played for the Yankees and pitched a no-hit game. This put him in, what is called, pitching's second highest "club". I assume that the highest club is either ‘pitchers who have thrown a perfect game’ or ‘guys who Pete Rose didn’t bet on’.

He was a solid pitcher until in 1996. That year he posted a pathetic 2-18, 7.48 ERA. Still, how many guys do you know that could pull off that record in the majors with 2 hands?

Today Jim works as a motivational speaker and tells people to cut their hands off to help their pitching. Sometimes, if there is a one legged guy in the crowd he will challenge him to a butt kicking contest.

One final note: Jim played most of his games in the American Leagues where they have the ‘designated hitter rule’ that means that pitchers have a guy to hit for them (especially if they have had too much to drink.) Still Jim did have to bat 23 times. He would hold the bat with one hand at the plate. Amazingly he got two career hits. I can only hope the pitchers that surrendered them did the honorable thing and shot themselves in the head right there on the mound.

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