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If you re a baseball fan like I am, Jim Abbott s story should satisfy your reading enjoyment He s a one handed pitcher due to a birth defect, and perseveres through grit and intelligence to have a MLB career I like how he s become an advocate for the kids who are like him Wonderful story about a good guy. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from this book was how important it is to appreciate the victories and how hard it can be to do just that Abbott accomplished something very few men do, no matter how many limbs they have, just by earning a place in the pitching rotation of a major league ball club, but his story makes it clear that, like so many of us do, he became focused on his failures than his accomplishments, to the point where much of the joy an achievement most people assume would make a person very happy evaporated for him I really appreciated his candor, and I am baffled by the reviewers who feel like they didn t get inside his head I have been fortunate to meet quite a few athletes, some in the big leagues, and have found that they tend to be very simple in how they see things and how they think When the manager goes out to the mound to tell the pitcher throw strikes, there s nothing ironic or simplistic about it To perform at the level these guys do, you have to strip away most of the words and be right there doing the very simple thing you do perfectly To translate that into words which take us out of the moment is hard, so I was doubly impressed by the ability of Abbott, aided by his co writer, to put so much into words I learned a great deal about what it s like to be a major league pitcher I learned about what it is like to be a major league pitcher who is losing his stuff, which is all too relevant this year for those of us who have been watching the Red Sox pitching staff melt down And of course, I learned even about what it is like to be involuntarily cast in the role of poster child when you just want to be a kid like everyone else and to have to cope with that all your life along with the challenges that come from having things that are easy for others to do made much difficult because of a disability This would be a very good book for anyone interested in baseball, anyone struggling to achieve success in any challenging field, and for anyone raising kids with disabilities who would like to understand what it s like to be the kid rather than all the adults around the kid giving the pep talks Highly recommended. This book was better than I expected it to be I have grown to have low expectations of an athlete s perceptiveness and writing ability, and this is unwarranted Jim Abbott shows both As he recounts his life, he even shows the growing process on how he has perceived different issues over the course of his life, and this can be very difficult to do Usually, even the best writers will want to superimpose their current level of maturity on their former selves as they write.Abbott is willing to admit that he carried a chip on his shoulder as a younger man This drove him to succeed and to define himself narrowly in terms of wins and losses This drove him to perhaps overreact to the curiosity of other people about his physical disability and to see any attempt to define him as a one armed pitcher as blatantly discriminatory As the story goes on, though, he begins to see that for good and for bad how he is perceived is not really about him Those who would discriminate against him or treat him unfairly must own their prejudice On the other hand, those, particularly children with disabilities, who are able to identify with him to an even greater extent because of his disability deserve to have that kind of a connection with a hero.Jim Abbott is also able to fulfill my other aim for this book to get a feel for what it was like to play baseball in my era from the mid 80s until the early 90s Baseball nostalgia is dominated by baby boomers who came of age between the late 40s and the early 60s, and their writing tends to look with disdain on later eras I am convinced that this is not because the game was THAT different but because of the jaded age at which they perceive it Just the names of the players Abbott faced brought back memories for me His vivid descriptions of the fields and even the gravel of the warning track under his feet made this worth reading.SECOND READING A fifth star is pretty tempting Abbott is good at conveying the details and texture that a baseball fan would want, but he is also good at conveying the maturation of his own thinking I mentioned that last time, but his interactions with the therapist really stood out to me this time. When I saw this book faced out in the New Non fiction section at the Rye Free Reading room, I was hesitant to reach for it Jim Abbott and I share an uncommon experience no, it s not pitching a major league no hitter living life without a right hand I wasn t sure what his take on it would be I m still not sure after 60 years what my take on it is But I picked up the book and began to read the introduction when I read the question his pre K daughter put to him on Dad s Day at pre school however, I was hooked Daddy, do you like your little hand Tough question Abbott essentially spends the next 300 pages attempting to answer the question As I have We are marked by it We must live with it and its associations, insults and challenges Captain Hook , Were you always left handed Shoe tying, brassiere un doing Imperfect made me think about my life It also made me somewhat relieved that much of what I ve experienced wasn t unique the book is filled with aha moments, tears and laughs that may perhaps only be appreciated by those with disabilities but I believe that anyone who has encountered hardship or challenges in life will be inspired by Abbott s accomplishments, no matter how many hands they have and I believe that s Abbott s point it is the big things that truly matter love, family, and friends. Jim Abbott comes across as an everyday kind of guy in recounting his fears as easily as the motivations that allowed him to overcome them At five years old he was placed in a hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., two hours away from his home in Flint Separated from his mother, father, and younger brother except on weekends, he bonded with other special needs children as doctors studied him and fit him with a clunky mechanical arm His parents realized after a month that he didn t belong there and brought him home intent on challenging him to find his place in the world, hand or no hand.Flint was not an easy place for anyone to grow up Abbott tells of the day he was accosted in a high school stairwell and punched in the face by a kid trying to earn his gang stripes Plenty of other two handed classmates met the same fate.The most heart breaking tales, however, are the stories of the children who wrote and visited him throughout his professional career Time and again he was interrupted in the clubhouse before a game by the PR guy, asking if he could spare a few minutes to talk or even play catch with a child who had been born without a hand or a foot or worse He accommodated so many such visitors he caught flak from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, with the Boss infamously stating that Abbott would be better off giving 100 percent of his attention to baseball Classic Steinbrenner.I was surprised at how much of Abbott s career I had forgotten, considering he was so frequently in the news Perhaps at some point I had come to regard him as he wished to be viewed, just another pitcher Once he lost his fastball, he stopped showing up on my fantasy league scouting reports.I hadn t remembered that he retired twice, walking away from the game for the entire 1997 season after posting an awful 2 18 record the year before I have no recollection whatsoever of him as a Brewer in his final season, when he went 2 8 with a 6.91 ERA before heading home to be with his wife and family There was no rocking chair tour, just a months long struggle to survive with a diminished fastball and a cutter that no longer broke like it had when he was young He realized too late that former teammate Bob McClure s advice to develop his secondary pitches might have prolonged his career.The book is well written almost to a fault There were places where I started trying to picture where Abbott left off and Brown took up For example, how many ballplayers have ever uttered two sentences such as these The sky was gray, a leaden touch to a yawn and stretch morning on Manhattan s Upper East Side The idle observations from the uniformed lobby doorman and the waitress four blocks away at Gracie s Corner, where the wait was manageable and the pancakes were reliably fluffy, were about afternoon rain, the prospect of which further softened the jostle of the expired workweek As colorful as that is, I was relieved that most of the book did not read that way I also wasn t a fan of the shifting viewpoints from first person to of an omniscient third person, particularly early on when talking about Abbott s parents before he was born It s a minor distraction, however, and doesn t take much away from what is a fascinating and frequently emotional journey. Was Jim Abbott a successful big league pitcher For us baseball statistical fiends, Jim Abbott finished his 10 year Major League pitching career with 21 losses than wins 87 108 lifetime record Delving deeper and not noted in his memoir , Abbott retired with a mediocre 4.25 ERA, a high WHIP of 1.43 and a very low K 9 rate of 4.8 Hitters had a healthy batting average of.276 and an OBP of.340 against him Defensively, Abbott s career fielding percentage was surprisingly much better than the league average for pitchers but his range factor was a bit limited than most As a batter, in a small sample Abbott hit.095 2 for 21 with 3 RBI s, no walks and 10 strikeouts While all of these statistics are interesting and worth considering, statistics by themselves never tell the entire story From little league all the way up to the biggest stage, Jim Abbott had to deal with adversity many people can t grasp Right away Abbott recognized he was different from everyone else he played baseball with Sometimes he felt like there were 17 players on one side of the field and him alone on the other While playing left field, first base and pitching for the freshman baseball team at Central High in Flint, Michigan, he went the entire season without getting a single hit Pitching was becoming his forte When Abbott was drafted by the struggling California Angels with the eighth pick in the first round of the 1988 draft, some people believed he d be used as a one handed circus show to boost slumping ticket sales Even the legitimacy of his crowning moment at Yankee Stadium was questioned years later when Manny Ramirez basically shrugged Abbott s no hitter off by saying we hit some balls hard Jim Abbott dealt with the skeptics, the critics, and the harsh nicknames like one point five and Captain Hook by ignoring the distractions and working hard on improving his craft He practiced his special glove switch by throwing a baseball to himself and catching it off of a brick wall while moving closer and closer to challenge the speed of his glove exchange As we all do, Abbott leaned on people who believed in him like his parents, teachers, and select teammates that included Michael Jordan on the Birmingham Barons in the minors during Jordan s hiatus from the NBA and the Chicago Bulls Abbott also learned a great deal from an amazing cast of many talented coaches and managers which included Buck Showalter, Joe Maddon and Terry Collins at the big league level In turn, Abbott became an inspiration for many, many people, especially imperfectly built children who faced unique challenges in their own lives.Abbott s hand or lack there of it was his motivation, his pride and his insecurity When doubt crept into his mind, he d blink hard to chase it away Hope and optimism sprung from choosing to focus not on what he lacked but rather on what he had While the topic of this book was fantastic and at times inspirational, the writing and cookie cutter style of it alternating back and forth from Abbott s past and the no hitter game left something to be desired Not every baseball book is a home run and unfortunately, this one is not a page turner But the message and lesson that s important is that life isn t easy and it isn t always fair but if we put our minds to it we can still make the most out of what we ve been given In the end, whether or not you consider Jim Abbott a successful big league pitcher depends on how you define success To me, success in life isn t determined by a win loss record or numbers and statistics of this and that Instead, I believe success is based on how you play with the hand you ve been dealt and the positive impact you have on other people around you Jim Abbott persevered with incredible determination and a willingness to take the ball no matter what the circumstance In this story character means everything and it s his character that makes Jim Abbott s career a resounding success. |Free E-pub ♛ Imperfect ☩ On An Overcast September Day In , Jim Abbott Took The Mound At Yankee Stadium And Threw One Of The Most Dramatic No Hitters In Major League History The Game Was The Crowning Achievement In An Unlikely Success Story, Unseen In The Annals Of Professional Sports In Imperfect, The One Time Big League Ace Retraces His Remarkable Journey Born Without A Right Hand, Jim Abbott As A Boy Dreamed Of Being A Great Athlete Raised In Flint, Michigan, By Parents Who Saw In His Condition Not A Disability But An Extraordinary Opportunity, Jim Became A Two Sport Standout In High School, Then An Ace Pitcher For The University Of Michigan But His Journey Was Only Beginning As A Nineteen Year Old, Jim Beat The Vaunted Cuban National Team By Twenty One, He D Won The Gold Medal Game At The Olympics And Without Spending A Day In The Minor Leagues Cracked The Starting Rotation Of The California Angels In , He Would Finish Third In The Voting For The Cy Young Award Two Years Later, He Would Don Yankee Pinstripes And Deliver A One Of A Kind No Hitter It Wouldn T Always Be So Good After A Season Full Of Difficult Losses Some Of Them By Football Scores Jim Was Released, Cut Off From The Game He Loved Unable To Say Good Bye So Soon, Jim Tried To Come Back, Pushing Himself To The Limit And Through One Of The Loneliest Experiences An Athlete Can Have But Always, Even Then, There Were Children And Their Parents Waiting For Him Outside The Clubhouse Doors, Many Of Them With Disabilities Like His, Seeking Consolation And Advice These Obligations Became Jim S Greatest Honor In This Honest And Insightful Memoir, Jim Abbott Reveals The Insecurities Of A Life Spent As The Different One, How He Habitually Hid His Disability In His Right Front Pocket, And Why He Chose An Occupation In Which The Uniform Provided No Front Pockets With A Riveting Pitch By Pitch Account Of His No Hitter Providing The Ideal Frame For His Story, This Unique Athlete Offers Readers An Extraordinary And Unforgettable Memoir Excellent read I would recommend it for anyone who is or has faced adversity, and isn t that everyone I especially liked the dual storylines of the autobiography and baseball game I was fortunate to attend a book event with Mr Abbott at Citizens Bank Park He is such a genuinely nice guy, and a terrific storyteller Highly recommend. ARC provided by GoodreadsWhen I was growing up I wasn t really into sports I could barely play them and they just didn t do much for me But I did like reading baseball stories and I remember reading in Sports Illustrated for Kids about Jim Abbottthe one handed baseball pitcher who pitched for the US Olympic Team and threw a no hitter for the New York Yankees And something about that story resonated with me, his perseverance, his desire to be known not as the one handed pitcher but just as a baseball player, and ever since then he s been one of my favorite athletes So I was really excited about having the chance to read his story And what a powerful story it is.The story alternates between Jim s life growing up and one of the defining moments of his baseball careerthe day that he threw a no hitter in 1993 against the Cleveland Indians Jim walks us through that day, from getting up and eating breakfast with his wife, to arriving at the ballpark, to the nerves throughout the day, to the very last out He gives us a look into what it s like to hear the boos and the roar of the crowd for this defining moment And just how this story relates to his life.Jim s story begins with his daughter and her kindergarten class He came for bring your parent to class day and she asked a question that he had never been asked before, yet one that permeated his life Do you like your little hand And from that point forward Jim shares with us his desire, his drive, and his perseverance to be known for than just his hand, but for being a baseball pitcher and importantly for being a good human being And that is actually my favorite aspect of this book Jim being humble, thankful for what he had, for what others didn t have, for what he could do to help others like him It s not necessarily what he wanted, but he did it anyway Not by trying to make any grand gestures and appearances, but by simply being himself Greeting the fans, talking to them, answering each and every letter that came his way just to let them know not to give up His story reveals that he s than just a baseball pitcher, but a good person And I m sure some folks are reading this thinking oh it s an autobiography he could just be making it up, but that s not the way it reads at all Jim isn t bragging about anything and he doesn t really try to make any of these aspects stand out, but they do anyway because that s the type person he is.This book isn t just for fans of baseball It s a book about a humble man who was also a baseball pitcher It s filled with humor, insight into the sports world, and humanity I highly recommend this book and it s one that folks should read at least once And then see how they feel about reading it a few times after that. With Imperfect An Improbable Life, Jim Abbott along with Tim Brown has written an honest, revealing memoir about his life and career Born without a right hand, Abbott used that as his drive to prove himself on the baseball diamond and therefore in life He didn t want pity if he could win at baseball, it proved that he was as good as everyone else He just wanted to be known as a baseball player and pitcher, not a one handed pitcher Abbott writes, Baseball and success in it was so important it brought upon me a distorted view of winning and losing The games outcomes became personal The book s structure is well done In between the chronological chapters of Abbott s life from childhood to teen to college student to Olympic gold medalist and beyond are short chapters showing the innings of the no hitter he pitched in 1993, the pinnacle of his major league career In addition to building suspense even though you know the result , it also puts the no hitter in perspective as far as the battles Abbott fought just to be on that mound in Yankee Stadium that day, the long journey of his life and each step along the way You get the sense of his satisfaction, which is so much than just not allowing a hit or winning an important game.Of course, the theme of this book is inspiration what and who inspired Abbott along his journey But the book also shows Abbott s inspiration to the disabled children who would invariably show up at his games Just the fact that Abbott made it to the majors is inspiration enough but he went out of his way to spend time with and encourage these kids and their parents who sought him out Jim Abbott is a true hero and inspiration, an athlete who understood the power of his celebrity, and how a little encouragement and acceptance can go a long way, and change someone s life.