Jim Abbott was a professional Baseball player who played in the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers organizations.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview for the members of Baseball Nation.
Q: Baseball Nation - Is there one person in your career as a baseball player (fellow player/manager/coach) who had a significant impact on the way you approach the game? Why?
A: Jim Abbott – There were many people who had a profound impact on my baseball career. In my major league career Marcel Lachemann was my first pitching coach and a huge influence on me. Marcel had a great understanding of both the physical and mental aspects of pitching. He was a tireless worker and made the pitchers on his staff feel as though he would do anything to help them get better. He was tremendously loyal, and stuck by me many times when things weren't going well.
Q: Baseball Nation – Looking back over your career, what are some of the stand out moments?
A: Jim Abbott - The Olympic Gold Medal game in 1988. My first win vs. the Baltimore Orioles. A no hitter with the Yankees in 1993
Q: Baseball Nation – You won numerous awards (Sullivan, Golden Spikes, Tony Conigliaro and a Hutch) as well as Olympic Gold. How do those compare to playing 10 years in the Majors?
A: Jim Abbott - The awards were very nice but playing baseball in the ML's gave a greater sense of satisfaction than any award. To compete at that level was incredibly challenging and rewarding. To do well at that level was an indescribable joy.
Q: Baseball Nation – What motivated you to overcome your disability and seek a career in MLB?
A: Jim Abbott – I wanted to be a part of something special. To be on a team meant something to me growing up. It helped me to move past the feelings of being different. This was my drive. My motivation was to be the best I could possibly be at every level I played. The major leagues seemed an unrealistic goal. Dreams do come true though
Q: Baseball Nation – Can you describe the feeling when you threw the no-hitter with the Yankees?
A: Jim Abbott – The no hitter was an unexpected thrill. The momentum, excitement, and anticipation that build up during those last few innings are very difficult to describe. You are so excited and in the moment. You become aware of everything going on around you, you can feel your heart beating.... managing all of this and seeing that last out being made is like being plugged into a light socket. The energy races through you.
Q: Baseball Nation – You played for a few clubs. Which team did you enjoy playing for the most, and why was that?
A: Jim Abbott – I enjoyed everywhere I played. West Coast, East Coast, Chicago and Milwaukee, but I most enjoyed the game when I was pitching well and the team was winning.
Q: Baseball Nation – How did you get involved in motivational speaking?
A: Jim Abbott – I started speaking a few years ago when a few people suggested that I might enjoy it as something to help transition into my post baseball life. I wasn't sure that I would like it, but I have found it to be very rewarding. To speak to an audience of people who may or may not know much about baseball is very intimidating. To feel as though you can have a positive impact on an event and on even a few lives is terrific. Many times traveling home from an event I will have similar feelings of accomplishment as when I pitched a good game. Not quite as exciting but still pretty good.
Q: Baseball Nation – What are some of the charities close to your heart?
A: Jim Abbott – I have worked with and try to help charities that help children and provide the same type of encouragement that I was lucky to receive as a kid. The Challenger division of little league. Boys and Girls Club in Flint Michigan, are two of my favorites.
Thank you again sir for doing this.