James Anthony Abbott (born September 19, 1967 in Flint, Michigan) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who is best known for playing despite having been born without a right hand! He played for the California Angels, the Yankees, the White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999.
Imagine playing baseball with only your left hand! Abbott used his to throw a no-hitter for the Yankees on Sept. 4, 1993, used it to compile an 18-11 record with a 2.89 earned-run average with the Angels in 1991. He used it to pitch the USA to an Olympic gold medal, used it to win award after award from sports and charitable organizations.
After all this came an extended losing streak. Jim was demoted to the minors in August 1996 to work on his pitching form.
On Aug. 22, 1996, in his home debut for the Pacific Coast League Vancouver Canadians at Nat Bailey Stadium before 6,638, Abbott lost the first minor-league decision of his career, 5-0 to the Tucson Toros. I was at this game at Nat Bailey Stadium and saw Jim pitch well, but he did serve up a three-run homer to Roger Luce, the No. 9 hitter in the Tucson Toros' lineup. So the questions he faced from the media, were about one thing and one thing only: The enduring agonies of constant, relentless losing. He had a truly terrible year in 1996, posting a 2-18 record with a whopping 7.48 ERA and briefly retired.
"I'm a believer that through adversity, there's growth," Abbott said. "Sometimes you have to break through ground to get to the more fertile soil. I am a believer in that. I think this year, in a way, has been profitable. I'm not sure that the Angels want to hear that, and I'm sure I didn't want to go through this, because it hasn't been a whole lot of fun. Sometimes pain can be an important part of finding out who you are."
James Anthony Abbott is an inspiration. He is proof that through perseverance, almost any challenge can be overcome. There are thousands of two-handed pitchers who never came close to Abbott's stature, never showed one hundredth of his courage. The way he handled the success was a marvel; the way he has confronted this debacle of a season has shown, almost refreshingly, that everyone has limits.
By a Huge Fan, Doug Anderson.
How did he play with only one hand?
When getting ready to pitch the ball, Jim Abbott would rest a right-handed thrower's glove on the end of his right forearm. After releasing the ball, he would quickly slip his hand into the glove, usually in time to field any balls a two-handed pitcher would be able to field. Then he would remove the glove by securing it between his right forearm and torso, slip his hand out of the glove, and remove the ball from the glove, usually in time to throw out the runner and sometimes even start double plays. At all levels, teams tried to exploit his fielding disadvantage by repeatedly bunting to him; this tactic was never effective.