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James Anthony Abbott (born September 19, 1967 in Flint, Michiganmarker) 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 New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers, from to .

He graduated from Flint Central High School and grew up in the East Village area of Flint, Michiganmarker. While with the University of Michiganmarker, Abbott won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's best amateur athlete in and won a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics. He was drafted in the first round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft and reached the Majors the next year. He threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in . Abbott retired with a career record of 87 wins and 108 losses, with a 4.25 earned run average.

He currently works as a motivational speaker.

Playing career

Amateur years

Abbott was born in Flint, Michiganmarker. He was picked up by the Ypsilanti, Michiganmarker American Legion team and went on to win the championship. He graduated from Flint Central High School in Michigan where he was a stand-out pitcher and quarterback. He played for the Grossi Baseball Club during the summer in the Connie Mack leagues of Michigan. He was drafted in the 36th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft but didn't sign, instead moving on to the University of Michigan.

He played for Michigan three years under coach Bud Middaugh, from to , 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 to win the award. Abbott was the flag-bearer for the United States at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolismarker, helping lead the USA to a first place finish. The highlight of his amateur career was when he pitched the final game in the 1988 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal for the United Statesmarker. Abbott was voted the Big Ten Athlete of the Year in 1988. Abbott would be selected 8th overall by the California Angels in the 1988 draft.

In 2007, Abbott was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame for his career at Michigan. Abbott's University of Michigan #31 was retired at the Wolverine's April 18, 2009 home game against Michigan State Universitymarker.

Professional years

Jim Abbott, post retirement
In , Abbott joined the California Angels' starting rotation as a rookie without playing a single minor league game. That season, he posted a 12-12 record with an ERA of 3.92, and finished fifth in the year's American League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

In , Abbott won 18 games with the Angels while posting an ERA of 2.89, finishing third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. In the season, he posted a 2.77 ERA, but his win-loss record fell to 7-15 for the sixth-place Angels. Abbott also won the Tony Conigliaro Award in 1992.

On September 4, 1993 while pitching for the New York Yankees, Abbott pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.

In , Abbott's Yankees led the American League East, but the 1994 Major League Baseball strike ended the season on August 12, 1994. The following year, after starting the season with the Chicago White Sox, he returned to the California Angels, who held a 11 game lead over the Seattle Mariners in August, but lost the American League West in a one-game playoff to the Mariners.

He struggled through the season, posting a 2–18 record with a 7.48 ERA and briefly retired.

Abbott returned to the White Sox in , starting five games and winning all five. Abbott continued his comeback the following year with the Milwaukee Brewers, but pitched ineffectively. This was the first time he'd played for a National League team, forcing him to bat for the first time in his career. He recorded two hits in 21 at-bats during his Brewers stint.

Abbott retired after the 1999 season with a career record of 87–108, with a 4.25 ERA.

Playing with one hand

When preparing to pitch the ball, 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 that 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.

Batting was not an issue for Abbott for the majority of his career, since the American League uses the designated hitter. But Abbott tripled in a spring training game in off Rick Reuschel, and when Abbott joined the National League's Milwaukee Brewers in , he had two hits in 21 at-bats, both off Jon Lieber. New York Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera said Abbott could hit home runs into the bleachers during batting practice.

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