Given this is major league baseball’s World Series season here in the U.S., I want to tell you the story of one very special pitcher.
He was born in Southfield, Michigan. In his youth he played for the Ypsilanti, Michigan American Legion team winning a championship. He attended Flint Central High School in Michigan where he was a standout pitcher, and the quarterback for the football team — leading both teams to state championships. He played in the summer Connie Mack leagues of Michigan.
In 1985 he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in Major League Baseball’s draft but didn’t sign. Instead, he went to the University of Michigan.
He played for Michigan three years, from 1985 to 1989, leading them to two Big Ten championships. In 1987, he won the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States, becoming the first baseball pitcher ever to win that award.
The same year he pitched for the United States at the Pan-American Games, winning a silver medal. He then pitched the final game in the 1988 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal for the United States. He was voted the Big Ten male athlete of the year in 1988, receiving the Jesse Owens Award, and was drafted 8th overall by the California Angels in the same year.
In 1989, he joined the California Angels’ starting rotation as a rookie without playing a single minor league game. That season, he posted a 12-12 record. His 12 wins as a rookie were the most since Mark Fidrych won 19 for the Detroit Tigers in 1976, and he finished fifth in the year’s Rookie of the Year voting.
In 1991, he won 18 games with the Angels, finishing third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. In 1992 he won the Tony Conigliaro Award.
On September 4, 1993 while pitching for the New York Yankees, he pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.
1994 – 1998 were inconsistent years, and he retired briefly. He returned to baseball, joining the White Sox in 1998, starting five games and winning all five. In 1999 he joined the Milwaukee Brewers. This was the first time he played for a National League team, and the first time in his career he was required to bat. He recorded two hits in 21 at-bats during his Brewers stint – not bad for a pitcher. He retired permanently following that season.
In 2007, he was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame for his remarkable career at the University of Michigan.
What makes this man’s career so very special? He was born in 1967 without a right hand. His name is Jim Abbott.