On April 8, 1989, California Angels rookie pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, makes his Major League Baseball debut in a 7-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. His debut generates a buzz throughout the sports world. "Maybe I was unnerved by all the attention," Abbott tells reporters afterward.
The Chicago Tribune wrote that the excitement generated by Abbott's debut "ranked right behind Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier." Abbott pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs against Seattle.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Abbott played well enough at Flint Central High School to be selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1985 MLB draft. Choosing to go to college instead, Abbott attended the University of Michigan, where he led Wolverines to two Big Ten championships. In 1988, the Angels selected Abbott with the eighth overall pick of the draft.
Abbott started 1989 with the Angels, becoming one of the rare players to make it to the major leagues without playing in the minor leagues. He had a respectable rookie season, finishing with a 12-12 won-loss record and a 3.92 ERA.
By the end of 1991, Abbott was one of MLB's better starting pitchers. His career high point occurred September 4, 1993, when he pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.
Abbott, who pitched for four teams over 10 years, retired after the 1999 season.
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