On an overcast September day in 1993, Jim Abbott took the mound at Yankee Stadium and threw one of the most dramatic no-hitters in major-league history. The game was the crowning achievement in an unlikely success story, unseen in the annals of professional sports. In Imperfect, the one-time big league ace retraces his remarkable journey.
Born without a right hand, Jim Abbott as a boy dreamed of being a great athlete. Raised in Flint, Michigan, by parents who saw in his condition not a disability but an extraordinary opportunity, Jim became a two-sport standout in high school, then an ace pitcher for the University of Michigan.
But his journey was only beginning.
As a nineteen-year-old, Jim beat the vaunted Cuban National Team. By twenty-one, he’d won the gold medal game at the 1988 Olympics and—without spending a day in the minor leagues—cracked the starting rotation of the California Angels. In 1991, he would finish third in the voting for the Cy Young Award. Two years later, he would don Yankee pinstripes and deliver a one-of-a-kind no-hitter.
It wouldn’t always be so good. After a season full of difficult losses—some of them by football scores—Jim was released, cut off from the game he loved. Unable to say good-bye so soon, Jim tried to come back, pushing himself to the limit—and through one of the loneliest experiences an athlete can have.
But always, even then, there were children and their parents waiting for him outside the clubhouse doors, many of them with disabilities like his, seeking consolation and advice. These obligations became Jim’s greatest honor.
In this honest and insightful memoir, Jim Abbott reveals the insecurities of a life spent as the different one, how he habitually hid his disability in his right front pocket, and why he chose an occupation in which the uniform provided no front pockets. With a riveting pitch-by-pitch account of his no-hitter providing the ideal frame for his story, this unique athlete offers readers an extraordinary and unforgettable memoir.
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Amazon Exclusive: Essay by Jim Abbott
He wouldn't say it exactly, because precision with words wasn't his specialty, but my father was the first to ask me, "So, what are you going to do about it?"
The question itself --framed as a challenge--came years later from a sports psychologist, long after I'd become an adult and as I was nearing fatherhood. My father had warmed me to the answer.
I was born when my dad was 18, barely out of adolescence himself, not yet married to my mother, and coping with his own response to a savagely simple call to obligation. I was born without a right hand, which, in 1967, qualified me as "crippled," predecessor to "handicapped," then "disabled," then "challenged."
So, what was he going to do about it? What were we going to do about it?
Well, we fished. We rode a bike. We flew a kite. And, eventually, we played ball. In Flint, Michigan, that's what boys did, what fathers and sons did. They played ball.
When I went out into the world and felt like I'd been spit out the other side, my father would turn me around, open the front door and send me back out.
He'd lost his own father at a young age, and his childhood with him. He replaced both with a desire to see more, and experience more. When everyone went right, Dad, often enough, went left. It wasn't willfulness, but instinct. He raised me in the same manner, from a soul that told him I'd need to fall down in order to stand. If he caught me today, I'd need someone to catch me and help me up tomorrow, and that wouldn't work at all.
He let me fail, with the faith it would teach me to succeed. I learned that it was as hard on him as it was on me, but not until my own children had fallen and risen themselves. Now one of my daughters will come to me, her eyes moist and swollen, and I'll think of my dad and what he said. In a quiet moment, I'll look at my little girl and I'll ask her:
"Well, honey, what are we going to do about it?"About the Author:
Jim Abbott was a major league pitcher with the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees, among other teams. Born in 1967, he was an All-American at Michigan; won a gold medal with the 1988 Olympic baseball team; and threw a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 1993. He retired in 1999. Abbott has worked with the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, has been a guest pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Angels, and has appeared as a motivational speaker. He lives with his wife and two children in Anaheim.
Tim Brown is an award-winning writer with twenty years of experience covering Major League Baseball at the Los Angeles Times, The Star-Ledger, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Los Angeles Daily News. He studied journalism at the University of Southern California and Cal State Northridge, and currently works for Yahoo! Sports.
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Book Description Ballantine Books, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0345523253
Book Description Ballantine Books, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0345523253
Book Description Ballantine Books, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110345523253