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Monday, August14, 2023 

When Louisville Slugger Warriors National Amputee Baseball Team members Parker Hanson, Colton DeRocher, Shan Donovan and Danny Williams talk about who inspired them, they share a common name: Jim Abbott. DeRocher once met him and called it a “neat experience.â€

Even though his career ended nearly 25 years ago, Abbot’s name is synonymous with the heart-warming story of a man who overcame the loss of his right hand at birth to give hope to not only baseball fans but those who lost limbs.

However, Abbott saw himself as a left-handed pitcher whose job was to get outs. He had to compete. While players bunted on him early in his career until they found out that wouldn’t work, he said Hall of Famer Wade Boggs once told him to be ready in case he hit the ball up the middle.

Over 10 seasons and 254 starts, Abbott pitched a no-hitter (1993), finished third in voting for the Cy Young Award (1991), won 12 of his 87 games his rookie season (1989) and pitched over 200 innings four times. “I didn’t think of myself as anybody’s poster child, players just don’t look at it that way,†Abbott said. “It was about finding a different way, a creative way, of going about it.

That’s the beauty of the game. You can contribute to a baseball roster in so many ways, whether it’s speed or power, pitching, outsmarting the other team or even using your enthusiasm.†After he retired, Abbott realized the impact he could have on young players and young athletes who had congenital defects or lost a hand, arm or leg to an accident or the war.

Now spending most of his time in California and native Michigan, he has been a motivational speaker. “I could send the message of possibility,†he said. “My playing and exposure helped to send that message. I was constantly overwhelmed to see and feel how the game affected others.†There’s a story of Abbott honing his fielding skills by throwing a rubber ball against a brick wall for hours.

He said it wasn’t so much about learning to flawlessly switch the glove from his throwing hand to fielding hand – he actually enjoyed doing it. “I just loved to play,†he said. “I thought about baseball when I woke up and when I went to bed. It was just fun imagining being Nolan Ryan or Jack Morris and trying to throw strikes. “Repetition allows you to have success. Baseball is a patient game, there’s a lot of trial and error.

There’s falling down and getting back up. You have to have desire because it’s also a hard game.â€

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