For those of you too young to remember, Jim Abbott was born without a right hand yet became a two sport high school star athlete in Flint Michigan; excelling in both American football (yes he played quarterback and led his team to two state championships) and baseball of course. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 36th round of the draft in 1985 but opted to enter the University of Michigan instead.
1989 Topps # 573: I like this card showcasing the Michigan uniform and the Angels logo
as Abbott is indeed a solid # 1 draft pick
He led Michigan to two Big Ten Championships and in 1987 won the James E Sullivan Award for being the nations best amateur athlete. He was the first baseball player and remains the only baseball player to have ever won this award. In 1988, the California Angels made Abboott the 8th player chosen in first round. 1988 was also the year Abbott led the USA to a Gold Medal in the summer Olympics held in Seoul South Korea.
1989 Topps Traded # 11: a USA Olympian
1990 Score # 330: a good shot of how Abbott uses his right arm to cradle his glove as he pitches
Throughout Abbotts career, teams tried to take advantage of his unusual situation (that of only having one hand) and it proved to be unsuccessful. Abbott defense was as solid as his pitching and actually had a lifetime .976 fielding percentage (having four years of perfect fielding).
Abbotts professional career was not spectacular, going 87-108 with a 4.25 career ERA. However, Jim Abbott will always be remembered for his courage and inspiration to all who saw him play. Today, he continues to be that as he has turned to motivational speaking. Thank you Jim Abbott for what you did for baseball in the late eighties - I know many have been and will continue to be inspired by you.