I was fortunate enough to be invited by CBSPhilly.com to a book signing for Jim Abbott’s book “Imperfect”. What an incredible evening. Take away the area at Citizens Bank Park that we sat in. Take away all of the beautiful surroundings. I was left with an overwhelming feeling of I can do anything if I really set my mind to it.
A little background for those who do not know Jim Abbott: Jim was born and raised in Flint Michigan. He was not terribly different than any other kid growing up in the early 80’s. With the exception that he was born without a right hand. But like most kids he wanted to play sports and because of his father and mother’s attitude that Jim refers to as “why not” and some terrific people who helped along the way Jim learned how to wear a glove on his left hand to catch a baseball and then take the glove off and throw the ball with his left hand. He learned the drill his father taught him so well that he pitched in the major leagues. He was also the winning pitcher in the 1988 Olympics for Team USA (a gold medalist). He pitched a no hitter for the Yankees.
The aforementioned accolades were not what moved me. What moved me and prompted my immediate reading of his book (Imperfect) were several comments he made during the interview with Michael Smerconish. First he wanted to be remembered as a great pitcher not a great one handed pitcher. Second his appreciation of those who helped him along the way. Like the teacher that taught him how to tie his shoe. Thirdly that the greatest positive in his life was also the greatest negative. He believed that he was incredibly blessed to have gotten to play baseball on some of the greatest stages in the world. However he was so driven by the need to succeed that he missed some of the great wonders of playing in those great stages.
Jim left us with the notion that we are not bound by the circumstances of our life. Jim said, “you are not bound by the situation that you may find yourself in…With optimism, and belief and hard work, amazing things can happen…”
Thank you Jim Abbott and thank you CBS.com for a great evening.