27 years ago today, CdM resident Jim Abbott pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. Only 10 Yankees pitchers have thrown a no-hitter in the franchise’s 120 years. What makes Abbott’s no-hitter even more remarkable is he was born without a right hand.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Abbott had a 10 year career in the major leagues after being drafted by the Angels following a standout career at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). As a sophomore at Michigan in 1987, he won the Sullivan Award as the Nation’s Top Amateur Athlete, the Golden Spikes Award as the top college baseball player, and became the first US pitcher to beat the Cuban national team in Cuba in 25 years. As a junior, he led the US to a Gold Medal in the 1988 Olympics, beating Japan in the final game in Seoul.
He went straight from college to the starting rotation of the Angels without ever spending a day in the minor leagues. In 1991, he finished third in the voting for the Cy Young Award, given annually to the best pitcher in the league. He played 4 seasons for the Angels before they traded him to the Yankees in a cost-cutting move. He played 2 seasons in New York before signing with the White Sox who traded him back to the Angels, where he played 2 seasons before closing out his career with the White Sox and Brewers.
Abbott retired from baseball in 1999 and raised two daughters with his wife, Dana, in Corona del Mar. Both of his daughters, Maddy and Ella, grew up to be standout athletes and followed in his footsteps by playing Volleyball and Water Polo, respectively, at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). He is in demand as a motivational speaker and heavily involved in children’s charities. He has twice been named the March of Dimes Athlete of the Year, and received the Freedom Forum’s Free Spirit Award for his charitable work. He’s still very involved in disabled children’s causes and continues to make appearances for various charitable organizations. His autobiography, "Imperfect: An Improbable Life", is available at the Newport Beach Library and on Amazon.