by Robert Goldman
A Complete History of the Angels,
told through memories of the players who lived it
Joe Maddon believes that if Abbott had two hands to work with he might have pitched a lot longer, and that all the extra motion required to switch his glove back and forth probably took a toll on his endurance. Yet what impressed Maddon most about Abbott was that despite incredible odds, the pitcher always rose to the highest level.
"You look at him and you just assume, okay, he's pitching in the big leagues; but try and put yourself in the position to do what he did and on the stage that he did it on, and you begin to realize what an incredible athlete he was. As a kid he goes out and competes with people that have an added advantage of an appendage he doesn't have, but he keeps going up the ladder and suddenly he's at Michigan. He hears all the crap being said to him behind his back but he doesn't pay any attention, then he goes on and pitches against the Cubans in the Olympics and he sticks it [to them]. Then he goes [professional] and he ends up throwing a no-hitter in New York! Come on!
"For all of us who don't have that kind of disadvantage, we don't have any idea what that means. I couldn't be a big league ball player with both my appendages, and he's doing it minus one! He proved to kids that have problems, 'Listen, you can still do it.'
"Jimmy personified sticking to what you believe in, don't take no for an answer, and don't worry what other people say," Maddon says. "If you really want to do what's it in your heart, go ahead and do it, because you can."