Photo credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame Library

Jim Abbott

James Anthony Abbott
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2015
Connection to Michigan: University of Michigan
Primary position: Pitcher

Born without a right hand, Jim Abbott tossed a no-hitter in his first Little League start. He enjoyed similar success at Flint Central High School, where he played first base, outfield and pitcher, batting .427 with seven homers while going 10-3 with a 0.76 ERA. (Abbott also played on the Central football team, serving as punter and second-string quarterback.)

Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 36th round in 1985, he turned down their contract offer and proceeded on to a storied career at the University of Michigan. After his freshman year, Abbott was honored by the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association as Most Courageous Athlete.

During his sophomore year, 1987, he first led the Wolverines to the Big Ten conference title in the spring and was named Michigan’s Most Valuable Pitcher, and then carried the flag for Team USA in the Pan American Games during the summer. The Americans took home the silver medal, with Abbott winning a pair of games. He was honored with both the Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete, and the Golden Spikes Award, recognizing the nation’s top amateur baseball player.

In 1988, Abbott was again named the Wolverine’s Most Valuable Pitcher and was voted Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year, the first time the honor was accorded to either a Wolverine or a baseball player.

Following the college season, he was selected eighth overall by the California Angels in the MLB Draft before starring in the Summer Olympics in Seoul, clinching the gold medal with a complete-game victory against Japan. Abbott’s Major League career lasted 10 years and 263 games pitched, highlighted by another no-hitter – thrown against the Cleveland Indians on September 4, 1993.

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