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Imperfect

Cover of Imperfect

Imperfect

An Improbable Life
On an overcast September day in 1993, 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...More
On an overcast September day in 1993, 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...More
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Description-
  • On an overcast September day in 1993, 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 1988 Olympics and--without spending a day in the minor leagues--cracked the starting rotation of the California Angels. In 1991, 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.


    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    CHAPTER 1

    I spent two baseball seasons in New York and enjoyed them most on Saturday mornings, when the city composed itself with a long, slow breath.

    Maybe it was a sigh.

    Either way, on this particular Saturday the sidewalks twenty-­seven floors below the apartment window were less cluttered, the taxi hailers appeared in a hurry but not altogether panic-­stricken, the dog walkers smiled and nodded at passersby as their little city pooches, pleased not to be rushed, did their morning business. Across 90th Street, a broad patch of emerald green--­conspicuously so against the old brick and brownstone and grit--­hosted a game of soccer, filling the neighborhood with cries of encouragement, whoops, and applause.

    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.

    I liked it there.

    Dana and I had carved something like a routine from our first year east. What began as an exercise in survival became almost comfortable. We'd rented a one-­bedroom apartment with a sofa, a coffee table, and a couple chairs, bought a few things for the kitchen, and mostly ate out. We were in our mid-­twenties, a good time for exploration and discovery and a semi-­furnished life. At first we walked the neighborhood within a few blocks of 90th and York Avenue, browsing the shops and studying the menus taped to the windows before widening the radius to include Central Park and the museums that run practically side-­by-­side along Fifth Avenue.

    We began to smile at familiar and friendly faces: the people with whom we regularly rode the elevator, the guy behind the deli counter a couple doors down, the woman who pushed quarters across the top of a stack of tabloids, change for our newspaper. Amid its swirling rhythms and every-­man-­for-­himself pretenses, New York was becoming a good place for us. We were learning about each other, fending for ourselves, accumulating the scrapes and bruises that come with the outsiders' clumsy entrance.

    I'm not sure the transplants among the city's millions ever believe that life there can be done quite right. There's simply too much one can't know, there being so many wonderful layers of people and cultures, so many siren blips and impulses. And yet, many find their spots. There is a life to be had in the spaces of stillness amid the commotion, and that's where we generally succeeded in hosting it.

    The job wasn't going as well.

    I walked with Dana that morning with The New York Times under my arm and work on my mind. A man pushed buckets of fresh flowers to the sidewalk, far enough to be tempting to passersby, not so far as to be out of sight. The paper carried the story of the Yankees' loss last night at The Stadium, a Cleveland Indians rookie named Manny Ramirez--­raised in New York's own Washington Heights--­hitting his first big-­league home run in front of scores of friends and relatives down the left-­field line, and, two innings later, his second. The Mets had lost in Chicago. The Angels game had gone too late to make the early edition. There may have been a mention of me somewhere within those pages, which I'd chosen not to read.

    It was early September and beginning to feel like it. The weather was turning and the Yankees were in the race, in second place, a couple games behind the Toronto Blue Jays...

About the Author-
  • Jim Abbott was a major league pitcher with the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees, among other teams. Born in 1967, he was an All-American at Michigan; won a gold medal with the 1988 Olympic baseball team; and threw a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 1993. He retired in 1999. Abbott has worked with the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, has been a guest pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Angels, and has appeared as a motivational speaker. He lives with his wife and two children in Anaheim.

    Tim Brown is an award-winning writer with twenty years of experience covering Major League Baseball at the Los Angeles Times, The Star-Ledger, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Los Angeles Daily News. He studied journalism at the University of Southern California and Cal State Northridge, and currently works for Yahoo! Sports.


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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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