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Jim Abbott

Finding Opportunity in the Imperfect

Former Major League Baseball player Jim Abbott inspires cattlemen.

“So much depends on our ability to adapt to challenges. Life comes with disappointments and struggles. No matter what comes your way, you have to answer, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ ” Former Major League Baseball player Jim Abbott inspired attendees of the second General Session at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix, Ariz.

Jim Abbott

It was an impressive career to be sure. What’s even more impressive is that he accomplished all of this with only one hand.

Abbott had an incredibly successful career as a baseball pitcher. Growing up in Flint, Mich., he took his high school team to the state championship. After graduation, he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and earned a scholarship to play baseball for the University of Michigan. After his junior year of college, he was chosen to play on the U.S. Olympic team for the games in Seoul, South Korea. He ended up pitching the championship game to beat Japan 5-3 and earn a gold medal. That was his last amateur game.

At 21, he was immediately drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, and in 1993 he pitched a no-hitter with the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians. It was an impressive career to be sure. What’s even more impressive is that he accomplished all of this with only one hand.

Jim Abbott was born without a right hand. He said he grew up always feeling different and always having to prove himself. However, speaking to cattlemen, he knew they have faced adversity, obstacles and struggles so he didn’t have to explain that. He shared lessons from his time as a professional baseball player through the acronym ADAPT.

  1. Adjustability — Be willing to do things in a different way, he suggested. Not having a right hand made him learn to both pitch and field the ball with his left hand. He holds the basket of the glove over his right hand while pitching, then smoothly moves the glove onto his left hand to catch the ball, wraps his right arm over it to let gravity drop the ball into his left hand, and then throws.

    Be open to new ideas and to innovation, he said. Don’t be afraid to take a chance.
  2. Determination — Intimidation only works if you let it. Ignore someone else’s expectations of what is possible, he urged.
  3. Accountability — Be accountable to your own talent and those around you by being confident in it.
  4. Perseverance — “I don’t have to tell you as cattlemen about perseverance, but one of my proudest accomplishments is simply having the refusal to quit,” he said.
  5. Trust — Sometimes we give our competition too much credit, he admitted. Trust in your own abilities. If you simply hope for the best, then you would get beaten in the situation.

    “Understand your strengths and believe in your preparation. Believe you are up for the moment,” he concluded. “Find your own way of doing things. Believe in who you are, and nothing can stop you.”
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Editor’s Note: This article was written as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show.







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