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Jim Abbott - Down, But Not Out

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"Baseball can be cruel," wrote Sporting News reporter Steve Marantz in 1997, "even to its most admirable player." Abbott took that year off to recoup and reenergize, then accepted a minor-league contract with the White Sox for the 1998 season. He endured half a season "riding buses around North Carolina," according to a Sports Illustrated article, "pitching in the Alabama humidity … and toiling in an old stadium in rodeo-rabid Alberta." When the White Sox called him up in September 1998, added the reporter, "almost no one noticed."

But Abbott made them notice, wrapping up the season with a 5-0 record against such formidable foes as the Cleveland Indians and Abbott's former team, the New York Yankees. But the winning streak did not last. A 2-8 season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1999 marked the end of Abbott's Major League play. His career won-loss record stood at 87-108, with a 4.25 ERA. But his influence lived on through the positive and inspirational image he invoked for the public, particularly the disabled.

With his Major League career ended, Jim Abbott left the spotlight of professional sports. The husband and father continued to provide inspiration off the field by working with physically challenged children. Though he's been known to shy away from television or film depictions of his life, the left-hander has been the subject of several biographies, including Nothing to Prove: The Jim Abbott Story.

Career Statistics

Yr Team W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H HR BB SO
CAL: California Angels; CHW: Chicago White Sox; MIL: Milwaukee Brewers; NYY: New York Yankees.
1989 CAL 12 12 3.92 29 4 2 181.3 190 13 74 115
1990 CAL 10 14 4.51 33 4 1 211.7 246 16 72 105
1991 CAL 18 11 2.89 34 5 1 243.0 222 14 73 158
1992 CAL 7 15 2.77 29 7 0 211.0 208 12 68 130
1993 NYY 11 14 4.37 32 4 1 214.0 221 22 73 95
1994 NYY 9 8 4.55 24 2 0 160.3 167 24 64 90
1995 CHW 6 4 3.37 17 3 0 112.3 116 10 335 45
1995 CAL 5 4 4.15 13 1 1 84.7 93 4 29 41
1996 CAL 2 18 7.48 23 1 0 142.0 171 23 78 58
1998 CHW 5 0 4.55 5 0 0 31.7 35 2 12 14
1999 MIL 2 8 6.91 15 0 0 82.0 110 14 42 37
TOTAL 87 108 4.25 254 31 6 1674.0 1779 154 620 888

Awards and Accomplishments

1978 Pitched first no-hitter at age eleven
1985 Baseball scholarship to University of Michigan
1986 University of Michigan Wolverines win Big Ten title
1987 Silver medal for Team USA, Pan-American Games, Havana, Cuba
1987 Golden Spikes Award
1987 Sullivan Memorial Trophy
1988 Gold medal for Team USA at summer Olympic games, Seoul, South Korea
1988 First-round draft choice, California Angels
1991 Named to American League All-Star team

If Abbott's "glory days are gone," Marantz noted in the Sporting News in 1997, "it is perhaps because we have come to take his uniqueness for granted. Against what standard should a pitcher with one hand be measured? The only standard is Abbott's and he would have us measure him against pitchers with two hands. Such is his illusion, art and greatness."

Jim Abbott - Career Statistics [next] [back] Jim Abbott - Chronology

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