IMPERFECT by Jim Abbott


An Improbable Life
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Former Major League pitcher Abbott recounts the ups and downs of his career—and how he managed to succeed despite being born without a right hand.

Abbott’s athletic success was perpetually viewed through the lens of his disability. His achievements, while impressive, were deemed extraordinary relative to what the average one-handed person might expect to accomplish. Such judgment rankled the principled, hard-working lefty, however, as he recounts in this chronicle of his childhood growing up in hardscrabble Flint, Mich., and subsequent rise to the majors, where he pitched for the California Angels and New York Yankees (among others). Throughout his career, Abbott fought to be evaluated based not on his remarkable ingenuity and dexterity in learning to both pitch and field so well with one hand, but rather on the merits of what he achieved on the mound. He could not, however, fail to acknowledge his status as a hero to the disabled, a burden he willingly bore throughout his career. Overall, Abbott enjoyed a marginally successful pro career with a lifetime record of 87-108. He excelled for a few seasons and even threw a no-hitter in fabled Yankee Stadium, all after being one of the nation’s best college pitchers at the University of Michigan; he also won a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics. Still, as much as Abbott sought to be known solely as a pitcher rather than a one-handed pitcher, it’s impossible to contextualize his career without acknowledging the incredible odds he overcame. His retrospective is appropriately modest and self-effacing, and able co-author Brown punches up an inning-by-inning recap of the no-hitter, but there’s a predictability to the narrative that makes it somewhat less remarkable than it should be.

Inspirational paint-by-numbers, but a worthy addition to the category of moving athlete memoirs.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-345-52325-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2012


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