20 years ago today Jim Abbott pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.
A no-hitter is usually a pretty big deal but this one was even more special because of who Jim Abbott was. In case you didn’t know, because maybe you were actually born in 1993, Abbott was born without his right hand.
From his SABR bio:
Abbott pitched with a right hander’s fielder’s glove perched pocket-down over the end of his stubbed right arm. At the conclusion of his delivery, he would deftly slip his left hand into the glove and be ready to field the ball. After catching the ball, he would cradle the glove against his chest in the crook of his right arm and extract the ball with his left hand, ready to make another throw. Observers invariably marveled at how smoothly and efficiently he could catch and throw the ball with one hand.
He played college ball at Michigan, pitched for the U.S. Olympic team in 1988 and placed third in Cy Young voting in 1991 when he finished with an 18-11 record and a 2.89 ERA with the then California Angels.
Abbott’s career lasted 10 years and he played with the Angels, the Yankees, the Chicago White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers before retiring in 1999 at the age of 31.
I watched this game with my father. We were in our den and he was sitting on the couch while I was sitting in the chair across from him, next to the fireplace. It was a Saturday afternoon and I had just woken up right before the game started – I was 19 at the time and had been out until about 5 a.m. that morning – so I watched the entire thing in my pajamas.
It wasn’t the first no-hitter I had watched on TV but up until that point, it was the most exciting for me because of Abbott and his story.
Here’s the Indians’ starting lineup from that day:
|Kenny Lofton CF|
|Felix Fermin SS|
|Carlos Baerga 2B|
|Albert Belle LF|
|Randy Milligan 1B|
|Manny Ramirez DH|
|Candy Maldonado RF|
|Jim Thome 3B|
|Junior Ortiz C|
Here’s the Yankees’ lineup:
|Wade Boggs 3B|
|Dion James LF|
|Don Mattingly 1B|
|Danny Tartabull DH|
|Paul O’Neill RF|
|Bernie Williams CF|
|Matt Nokes C|
|Mike Gallego 2B|
|Randy Velarde SS|
I remember Baerga grounding out to end the game and watching as my dad clapped his hands together in excitement. You have to understand, my dad is one of those people who doesn’t show much emotion while watching sports. I can recall three other times when he’s shown real genuine joy after a sporting triumph on TV: John Starks’ dunk against the Chicago Bulls in May 1993, the Rangers finally winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 and Phil Mickelson winning his first Masters in 2004.
I am his exact opposite and I get excited over everything.
Anyway, here’s the last out of the game on September 4, 1993.