The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Jim Abbott Promoting New Autobiography cous applause, a huge grin on his face. Stopping at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor to promote his new au- tobiography — Imperfect: An Improbable Life — Abbott looked out at the overflowing crowd and said, "This is great. I was just hoping a few people showed up who weren't in my family." Abbott was being far too modest — the bookstore, Jim Abbott stepped up to the microphone to rau- its shelves cleared to set out chairs, was standing room only. A Nicola's Books employee said that, for a popu- lar author appearance, they might sell 80 or 90 copies. Abbott signed more than 250 books for about 300 fans. Abbott, who first gained fame as a pitcher at Michi- gan (1985-88), where he became the first baseball player to be awarded the James E. Sullivan Award given to the nation's top amateur athlete, went on to a 10-year Major League Baseball career. He pitched a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium, and he won 87 games and pitched in the 1988 Olympics. And people packed into Nicola's Books not only because of his accomplishments, but the determination it took to get there. Abbott was born without a hand on his right arm. After regaling the audience with anecdotes about his baseball career, Abbott finished his speech with a story about his time at his daughter's preschool 'Take Your Parent To School Day.' Near the end of his time in front of the class, his daughter raised her hand and asked, "Daddy, do you like your little hand?" The question, he said, took him aback. He'd never thought of it. "You know, honey, I do," he said. "There were a lot excited to be back in Southeastern Michigan. "Whenever I tell people about where I'm from, I say, of times in my life when I didn't, but it's who I am." Abbott, who now lives in California, was clearly 'I'm from the great town of Flint," Abbott addressed the crowd. "And it was great to grow up there. Early on in my life, I figured out that I was different. But I received all the support in the world from the people of Flint, from the earliest time in my career." Abbott "I want people to believe in what is possible. If a kid from Flint can grow up to pitch a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium, then there are a lot of possibilities for people out there." showed him how he would flip his glove across his body in order to field and throw balls. Afterwards, Abbott sat down, signed books, posters Abbott then brought a kid up to the front and and baseballs, and chatted with the hundreds of fans who came out to see him. "It means the world, to be back in Ann Arbor," Ab- bott said after the signing. "I was overwhelmed by the Abbot pitched at Michigan from 1985-88 before going on to appear in the 1988 Olympics and then a 10-year Major League Baseball career, most notably with the New York Yankees. turnout. I saw a lot of people I knew in the past, and I met a lot of new people. It was great. "It's amazing, especially so long after my career is over. I didn't know what to expect. When I asked [co- author] Tim Brown if he wanted to help write it, I hon- estly said, 'We might self-publish this thing, because I don't know if anyone will want to do this thing.' "Those are the expectations we took into it. We weren't trying to sell a bunch — we wanted to do things the right way, and when it got picked up, we were thrilled. When we saw the finished product, we were thrilled again. And now to see the reception for it, we're thrilled again. Our heart was in the right place, and hopefully people pick up on that." Abbott said that writing a book wasn't always something he wanted to do — but, as he has grown older and began a budding career as a motivational speaker, he slowly formed the message he wanted to convey. "I want people to believe in what is possible," he said. "If a kid from Flint can grow up to pitch a no- hitter in Yankee Stadium, then there are a lot of pos- sibilities for people out there." JUNE/JULY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 17

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