Game Change Nation

Overcoming a Slump: The Jim Abbott Story

Yankee Stadium was rocking. It was the ninth inning of an early September game between the hometown New York Yankees and visiting Cleveland Indians (now Guardians). Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott toed the rubber as Cleveland batter Carlos Baerga dug in, awaiting the 0-1 pitch. The pitch arrived and Baerga hit a hard groundball that Yankees shortstop Randy Velarde scooped up and threw to Don Mattingly, at first, for the final out of the game.

The place went crazy.

Abbott pumped his arms in the air and was mobbed by his Yankee teammates. He had just thrown a no-hitter. Throwing a no-hitter is an amazing feat, which was made more amazing by the fact that Abbott was born with most of his right hand missing. However, by 1993, when Abbott had his awesome game against Cleveland, it was already his fifth season in the big leagues and so his teammates weren’t celebrating the mythology of the one-handed pitcher, they were just plain celebrating a no-hitter. They are rare.

As Abbott took his victory lap around Yankee Stadium it is unbelievable that less than a week before he was on a different run, through the streets of Cleveland. Abbott had just been pulled in only the third inning of a game between his Yankees and those same Cleveland Indians. He 

walked off the field and into the clubhouse, changed into his running shorts, and while the teams continued to play inside Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Abbott jogged outside of it, running off the frustration of getting pounded by Cleveland’s batters.  

We all face adversity. We all have times in our life when we are slumping. The 1993 baseball season for Jim Abbott was one long slump, but out of it came something beautiful – a no-hitter for the ages. Abbott’s 1993 season is a fitting metaphor for a life spent overcoming adversity, only to do something that many dream of, but only few achieve, pulling on the uniform of a major league ballclub. 

Abbott’s story is an inspiring reminder of one of the basic realities of life. We will all get knocked down — and getting back up is so much better than the alternative.  

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