Jim AbbottThis article is about Jim Abbott the one-handed baseball player. For Jim Abbott the Canadian politician, see Jim Abbott (politician).
A left-handed pitcher born without a right hand, Abbott was one of the feel-good stories of 1988 and 1989. In 1988, Abbott won a gold medal pitching for the United States in the 1988 Summer Olympics. The following year, he jumped directly from the University of Michigan into the Angels' starting rotation, posting a 12-12 record with an ERA of 3.92 at the age of 21. His 12 wins in his first professional season were the most since 1925, and he finished fifth in the year's rookie of the year voting.
Abbott wore a right-handed glove over the stump on his right arm, rapidly putting the glove on his left hand after finishing his pitching motion in order to field any ball that might come his direction. He would then remove the glove and make the throw with his left hand. In spite of his disability, Abbott's fielding statistics matched or slightly bettered the league average most seasons.
Abbott's best season would come two years later, when he won 18 games while posting an ERA of 2.89 and finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. He again pitched well in 1992, posting an even better 2.77 ERA, but his win-loss record fell to 7-15 for the sixth-place Angels. On September 4, 1993 while pitching for the Yankees, Abbott threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.
Although Abbott pitched effectively for the Yankees and White Sox before returning to the Angels, he never recaptured his 1991 form. He struggled through the 1996 season, posting a disastrous 2-18 record with a 7.48 ERA and briefly retired.
He returned to the White Sox in 1998, starting five games and winning all five. Abbott continued his comeback the following year with the Brewers but pitched ineffectively. However, he did collect two hits in 21 at-bats and drove in three runs, in spite of only being able to swing the bat with one hand.
Abbott retired with a career record of 87-108, with a 4.25 ERA and now works as a motivational speaker.