Jim Abbott gave a speech today where I work as part of an employees with disabilities awareness event. There was a board topic a couple days ago about a UofM-related 30 for 30 special. I think Jim's life story would be a perfect choice for 30 for 30. A few highlights: he pitched the gold-medal winning game for the USA in the '88 Olympics, he was 3rd in the Cy Young voting one year, and he pitched a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium. For more info, see: http://www.jimabbott.info/biography.html.
He spoke for an hour and I was on the edge of my seat for the whole time. He claims he's semi-retired now. He does some public speaking and works as a pitching instructor in the Angels system. He had many great stories to tell, but I'll only share a couple.
When he was in 2nd grade, his teacher noticed that Jim's shoes weren't tied. This is not surprising, given that Jim was born without a right hand. According to Jim, the teacher went home and figured out how to tie his own shoes with one hand and his fist, to mimic the end of Jim's right arm. He then taught Jim how to tie his shoes. Jim told this story with as much energy and emotion as when he told his story about winning the gold medal or pitching a no-hitter. If there are any teachers out there reading this, you can make a huge difference in a child's life. You never know what event or action will turn a kid around, or give them confidence in themselves, but it is beautiful when it happens. I must admit, my eyes were getting a little moist as Jim told the story.
The second story to note here was about his start the game before his no-hitter. He was facing the Indians in Cleveland, the same team he would no-hit 5 days later. Only in this game, he gave up 10 hits, 5 walks, and 7 runs in 3 innings. He was terribly upset and left the stadium to go running around Cleveland while the game was still in progress. When he got back to the stadium, the yanks had rallied to win. Jim's message was that in the first game, he didn't trust his stuff. In the no-hitter, he trusted that his catcher Matt Nokes would call a good game and he trusted in his own ability. He said that most of the great occasions in his life followed difficult times. I could only think of our Wolverines coming off this past weekend. Hopefully we've learned some lessons and will come out strong against the hawkeyes. Denard needs to trust in his ability to throw the ball like he did in the first 5 games, and in the offense to run the ball. If UofM does that, gets some stops on defense, and protects the football, we'll be right back on track.