With all due respect, Jim Abbott is more impressive than you.
Born without a right hand, Abbott was a very successful college athlete, who, in 1988, won a gold medal for the United States during the Summer Olympics, before being drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft (1989) and reaching MLB without pitching a single inning of Minor League baseball. Which, just … what? That is all so insane and also just the beginning of his story.
Abbott ultimately played in the big leagues for 10 years and although he was never an All-Star, he does have a no-hitter on his resume, plus a top-3 finish in the 1991 AL Cy Young Award race.
Here’s a look at the final pitch of his no-hitter:
Strictly speaking, I bring up Abbott today – April 8th – because it’s the 31st anniversary of his Major League debut (5.0 IP, 5H, 5ER, 3BB, 4Ks), but also because while perusing his stats over at FanGraphs, I noticed something interesting.
Over his 10-year career, Abbott stepped up to the plate just 24 times, all of which were in his final season with the Brewers (he played exclusively in the American League before that). And in those 24 plate appearances, he’s got exactly two hits and 3 RBI, all of which came against the Chicago Cubs as a member of the Brewers. As a Cubs fan, that just stuck out to me, and made me want to pass it along (doesn’t hurt that the Cubs won both games!).
Here’s a look at one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott’s first and second (final) career big league hits – a couple of RBI singles against the Chicago Cubs (off Jon Lieber both times!).
Okay, that was a legit, opposite-field, RBI, line-drive single!
On the mound, Abbott went 6.2 IP with 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts that day, but from the dish, he went 1-3 with an RBI. Fortunately, as I mentioned, my Cubbies pulled out the win 7-4.
But two weeks later, Abbott did it again, this time at Wrigley Field:
(As an aside, this is the funniest part of that video, from the announcer: “Jose Hernandez has almost no range whatsoever at shortstop. That’s a play Jose Valentine would make in his sleep!”)
Abbott’s second (and final) big league hit wasn’t quite as convincing, but it scored another two runs and gave the Brewers a 3-0 lead at the time. Of course, once again, my Cubbies would rally back for 3 runs in the bottom half of the inning, before going onto win 5-4. So … sorry Abbott. SHOULDA HAD MORE HITS.
All jokes aside, Abbott was not just a good pitcher for a guy with one hand, he was a good pitcher. Period. And the fact that he added two hits in his career – both scoring runs – is just the icing on top of an extremely impressive big league career. I’m glad the Cubs could be a part of his story. Abbott is one cool dude.