Abbott in 1998.
September 19, 1967 |
|April 8, 1989, for the California Angels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 21, 1999, for the Milwaukee Brewers|
|Earned run average||4.25|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Representing United States|
|Pan American Games|
|Baseball World Cup|
James Anthony Abbott (born September 19, 1967) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher who played despite having been born without a right hand. He played ten seasons in MLB for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999.
He graduated from Flint Central High School and grew up in the East Village area of Flint, Michigan. While with the University of Michigan, Abbott won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's best amateur athlete in 1987 and won a gold medal in the demonstration event at the 1988 Summer Olympics. He was drafted in the first round of the 1988 MLB draft and reached the major leagues the next year. As a member of the Yankees, he threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in 1993. Abbott retired with a career record of 87 wins and 108 losses, along with a 4.25 earned run average.
Abbott was born in Flint, Michigan. He was picked up by the Ypsilanti, Michigan 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 did not sign, instead moving on to the University of Michigan.
He played for Michigan three years under coach Bud Middaugh, from 1985 to 1988, 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 player to win the award. Abbott was the flag-bearer for the United States at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, helping lead the USA to a second-place finish. Baseball was a demonstration sport in the 1988 Summer Olympics; Abbott pitched the final game, winning an unofficial gold medal for the United States. Abbott was voted the Big Ten Athlete of the Year in 1988. He would be selected 8th overall by the California Angels in the 1988 draft. Abbott's University of Michigan #31 jersey was retired at the Wolverines' April 18, 2009 home game against Michigan State University. 
In 2007, Abbott was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame for his career at Michigan.
In 1989, 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 1991, 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 1992 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.
In 1994, Abbott's Yankees led the American League East, but the season halted, and the playoffs were canceled, due to a players strike on August 12. The following year, after starting the season with the Chicago White Sox, he returned to the California Angels, who held an 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 1996 season, posting a 2–18 record with a 7.48 ERA and briefly retired.
Abbott returned to the White Sox in 1998, 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 had 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.
When preparing to pitch the ball, Abbott would rest his mitt on the end of his right forearm. After releasing the ball, he would quickly slip his hand into the mitt, usually in time to field any balls that a two-handed pitcher would be able to field. Then he would secure the mitt between his right forearm and torso, slip his hand out of the mitt, and remove the ball from the mitt, usually in time to throw out the runner at first or sometimes even start a double play. At all levels, teams tried to exploit his fielding disadvantage by repeatedly bunting to him; however, 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, and he played only two seasons in the interleague play era. But Abbott tripled in a spring training game in 1991 off Rick Reuschel, and when Abbott joined the National League's Milwaukee Brewers in 1999, he had two hits in 21 at-bats, both off Jon Lieber. New York Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera claimed to have witnessed Abbott hitting home runs during batting practice.
|Awards and achievements|
September 4, 1993
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