Hey baseball fans!
I recently got the chance to interview former MLB pitcher, Jim Abbott! Some of you might know him from his no-hitter with the Yankees, while some might know him from his playing days with the Angels, White Sox, and Brewers. Nonetheless, I'm still going to tell you a little bit about him before I get to the interview.
Jim Abbott pitched in the majors from 1989-1999 with the aforementioned teams, despite being born without a right hand. Because of this, his pitching style was a little bit different than others but, ultimately, he was a great pitcher. During his collegiate pitching career at the University of Michigan from 1985-1988, Abbott led the Wolverines to two Big Ten championships. In 1987, he became the first baseball player ever to win the James E. Sullivan Award as the best nonprofessional athlete in the United States. He even helped the USA get the gold medal in baseball in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. That same year, he was drafted by the Angels as the eighth overall pick in the MLB Draft and didn't pitch a single game in the minors.
During his MLB career, he went 87-108 with an ERA of 4.25. His best season was with California in 1991, when he placed third in the AL Cy Young Award voting and won 18 games. Abbott’s crowning achievement was a no-hitter with the Yankees against the Indians on September 4th, 1993; he didn't allow a single Indian to reach second base. After his MLB career came to a close, he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and is currently a motivational speaker.
Now, here is the interview with former star pitcher, Jim Abbott!
Matt: You were born without a right hand. How did you learn to play baseball? Did the game come naturally to you?
Jim: I just learned to play a little differently. I could always throw the ball pretty well and I worked pretty hard at learning how to play the game. But I didn't consider it work as a kid, since I just loved playing baseball. I had some natural talent, but the key for me was practicing learning how to pitch.
Matt: Why didn't you sign with the Blue Jays when they picked you in the 1985 MLB Draft and instead went to the University of Michigan?
Jim: I wasn't ready for professional baseball and it was my dream to play for the University of Michigan. I figured if I could go to school and get some classes in, I could be a better prospect than I was before.
Matt: Did you expect that you would win the 1987 James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States?
Jim: I really didn't expect it at all. I didn't even expect to be invited to the award ceremony.
Matt: Did you feel that you were going to pitch well on the day you no-hit the Indians?
Jim: The no-hitter came somewhat out of the blue. I didn't have a great start the start before and I didn't go into the game too confident, but I think that added some focus for me.
Matt: When you were elected into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, what emotions did you experience when this news was announced?
Jim: It was a very big honor. To be inducted into the same class as some of the great college baseball players of all time, it meant a lot and was very special.
Matt: You are currently a motivational speaker, but do you ever want to return to the major leagues as a coach, trainer, or maybe even an owner?
Jim: I don't think I can ever be an owner, but I do miss the game sometimes. However, I really enjoy what I'm doing now and I like inspiring people.
Matt: Do you have any advice for kids with a handicap that want to play sports?
Jim: My advice is that you go and do something that you are really driven to do. I loved to play baseball and, because I loved it, I practiced it. Some of us have limitations, but if you are passionate about something and if you have the drive, then you can accomplish it.
Thanks to Jim for answering my questions. It really means a lot. And thanks to Nikki Warner at the MLBPAA for making the connection. Anyway, thanks so much for reading this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."