Saturday, May 12, 2012

He was born that way. Never made a big fuss over it. Never looked for any attention to be treated differently than any other person. He is Jimmy Abbott who is special in more ways that one that we all could be too. And just like the famous Lady Gaga song, He was born that way, this guy is a survivor and just wanted to be treated like any other person. Not for a gay reason but for a physical reason.
It is spring and when I think of spring I think of baseball and along with baseball you think of heroes. Well, this guy was born without a hand, loves sports and simply says, “I had to learn to do things a little bit differently.” That’s it. No whining, no running around expecting society to give him money or breaks. He simply says that he has to adjust. He was subjected to bullying and ridicule but managed to cope and not be suicidal.
He played baseball in little league to being at the University of Michigan to winning an Olympic Gold medal all before Jim Abbott pitched his no hitter as a Yankee. He did more with one hand than many players dream of doing with both hands. Throughout his life he was always interested in sports. Instead of sulking about missing one hand, he just figured out a way to get the job done with one hand.
Jim’s philosophy is that whatever it took to get in the game, he was going to figure out how to do it and then do it. Even now well into his adult life he is still figuring out how to do things like playing golf. Or whatever the sport. He is fortunate that he has most of his forearm to help guide the club and balance it. He retired from baseball got married and has two daughters.
Not until he had his daughter did he think of his body in a different light when she asked him if ho liked his arm. Since then, he has taken his philosophy a step further. Yes, he likes his arm, his unique arm with out the hand. His new prospective has brought him to want to write a book called ” Imperfect An Improbable Life.” He never even noticed that he was different until he went to school as a child.
In kindergarten he wore a hook that was big and clunky and scared the other kids and drew a lot of attention to him. He found himself at most times with his hand in his pocket to avoid attention. Even in adulthood in certain situations he feels compelled to hide his infliction. His parents nor his doctors could explain why he was born that way. What he did know is that it couldn’t be an excuse to get through life with.
What was important was for him to not shy away from people, move forward, and not to shy away from people especially if he wasn’t picked to be involved in things. He didn’t want pity like all kids, he just wanted to belong and play. Even if he was picked last for a team, he made it his ambition to move forward in that team.
His teacher was the brick wall on the back of his garage where with chalk he marked where he had to pitch the ball and at the same time manage to master the art of switching his glove to make his catching hand his pitching hand too. He had to be quick to make that change before the ball bounced back to him. A classic example of how my Mom used to always say, “If there is a will, there is a way.”
Soon the kid with one hand was called the kid with one heck of an arm. He quickly became the one that was picked first instead of last on a sports team. By the time he went to high school he figured it out and was a great pitcher and was good on the batting mound. He remembers game winning home runs. He was such a good athlete the football coach wanted him as a quarterback and he led that team too to the state semi-finals.
In 1987 he was named the Nation’s Best Amateur Athlete. In 1988 he was selected as the starting picture for the Unites States Olympic Baseball Team and then went on to win the Gold Medal. Then a bigger dream came true when he made it to Majors as the first round draft pick in the Majors. Being regarded as the professional athlete instead of just the poor guy with no hand was his greatest achievement.

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