Jim Abbott has an 'Imperfect' story to tell

Baseball: Former major league pitcher Jim Abbott signs autobiography in Glendale.

June 05, 2012|By Charles Rich,
  • Jim Abbott and Ryan Halamicek, 7, of Wrightwood, high five at Barnes & Noble at the Americana at Brand on Tuesday.
Jim Abbott and Ryan Halamicek, 7, of Wrightwood, high… (Tim Berger, Los…)

GLENDALE — Ryan Halamicek has met Nolan Ryan and played catch with Bob Feller, a pair of Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitchers, in Arizona.

Halamicek, 7, came to Glendale on Tuesday night prepared to meet another former big league pitcher. Except this proved to be something different for the Wrightwood resident, who stood in line to meet and greet Jim Abbott, a longtime major leaguer who was born without a right hand.

Donning an Angels cap and jersey, Ryan and his father, Kevin, had some baseball cards and Abbott's recently published book, "Imperfect: An Improbable Life," signed by Abbott during an autograph session at Barnes & Noble at the Americana at Brand. As an added bonus, Abbott took a couple of minutes to play catch with the younger Halamicek with Abbott showing him how he pitched and fielded a ball.

"I'm real lucky I could play catch with him," Halamicek said. "I wasn't expecting it and it means a lot to do that."


A phenom from the University of Michigan, Abbott, now 44, was drafted in the first round in 1988 (eighth overall) by the California Angels. He went 87-108 with a 4.25 earned-run average with the Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers between 1989-99.

As a rookie, Abbott became an immediate fan favorite from coast to coast. When he prepared to pitch, Abbott would rest a right-handed thrower's glove on the end of his forearm. After throwing the ball, he would slip his hand into the glove in time to field a ball that a two-handed pitcher would be able to grab. Abbott would then remove the glove by placing it between his right forearm and torso, slip his hand out of the glove, and remove the ball from the glove to begin a fielding play. It was a routine he practiced and perfected as a child while playing catch with his father in Flint, Mich.

Abbott's benchmark moment came Sept. 4, 1993, when he pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. He was mobbed by his teammates, which included Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Bernie Williams and his catcher, Matt Nokes, near the pitcher's mound and showered with applause from the crowd.

Almost 20 years later, the memories still burn bright for the affable Abbott, whose autobiography, co-authored by veteran baseball writer Tim Brown, captured the images of that afternoon on the mound and also chronicled his childhood and the obstacles he had to overcome to enjoy a lengthy career.

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