2019 Keynote Speaker
Famed One-Handed Major League Baseball Pitcher
Making it to the pitcher’s mound in a Major League Baseball game is a major accomplishment that few young baseball players achieve. Jim Abbott did. And he was born with only one hand.
You won’t want to miss hearing this former MLB pitcher as he shares his story about adapting and overcoming adversity to achieve his goals and have a successful pitching career.
As a child growing up in Flint, Michigan, Abbott remembers always enjoying sports and wanting a career in professional sports in some capacity. He could always throw well – and even played quarterback on his high school football team in addition to being a top pitcher.
Although he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1985, Abbott declined and went to play baseball at the University of Michigan. As the first baseball player to win the Sullivan Award as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete in 1987, Abbott went on to represent Team USA and became the first American pitcher in 25 years to beat a Cuban team on Cuban soil. The team won a silver medal at the Pan-American Games, and Abbott won the U.S. Baseball Federation’s Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur player in the country.
In the 1988 Olympics, Abbott was the winning pitcher in a 5-3 victory over Japan that brought the United States its first gold medal in baseball. He was then drafted by the California Angels in the first round (8th pick) and was one of only three pitchers during the 1980s to win his first professional game at the major league level. His most famous high point came in 1993 when he threw a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Abbott played for 10 seasons on four different teams, ending his big-league playing career in 1999.
Abbott will share how he was able to overcome perceived limitations and reach his dreams. He encourages audiences to find something they love and to go after it with all their heart. He is the author of his autobiography titled Imperfect. His story has been featured in numerous magazines, and he has appeared on several television shows.