Former MLB pitcher Abbott to receive ABCA Honor Award

Jim AbbottFormer University of Michigan great and College Baseball Hall of Fame member Jim Abbott will receive the American Baseball Coaches Association's Honor Award at the ABCA Convention in Anaheim on Jan. 7, 2017. Abbott, who is now a motivational speaker, took home USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur baseball player in 1987.

The Honor Award is presented each year to individuals involved in baseball, who have distinguished themselves and are recognized for achievements in their profession. The Olympic Gold medalist will be presented the award and will speak during the Honors Luncheon presented by Diamond Kinetics on Jan. 7, 2017.

A standout at the University of Michigan, Abbott was twice named Michigan's Most Valuable Pitcher and earned Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year honors. The 1987 Golden Spikes Award winner went on to a 10-year Major League career, but his work didn't stop there.

Abbott now serves as a motivational speaker and is heavily involved in children's charities. He is associated with Amigos de los NiƱos, a California organization that aids groups that care for children, has twice been named the March of Dimes Athlete of the Year and received the Freedom Forum's Free Spirit Award for his charitable work. Abbott has also worked with the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy on several initiatives encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities.

Abbott, who was born without his right hand, defied the odds and went on to have a very successful career in sports. The Flint Central (Mich.) High School star was the 36th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft. Abbott instead chose to attend the University of Michigan, where he flourished. He led the Wolverines to two Big Ten championships and was named Michigan's Most Valuable Pitcher in 1987 and 1988.

Abbott's collegiate accomplishments continued. In 1987, he won both USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and the AAU's Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete of the year, becoming the first baseball player to win the award. That year, he made his first tour with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, including the Pan American Games, and also became the first American pitcher to defeat Cuba, in Cuba, in 25 years. He finished the tournament with two wins as the U.S. took home the silver medal.

The following year, he became the first baseball player to win Big Ten Athlete of the Year and was once again named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. He pitched Team USA to victory over Japan with a complete-game effort in the gold-medal game of the Seoul Olympic Games.

In 1989, he was selected eighth overall by the California Angels, where he made the starting rotation, becoming the 15th person in Major League history to completely bypass the minor leagues. His breakout season occurred in 1991, when he posted an 18-11 record with a 2.89 ERA. He placed third in American League Cy Young Award voting, but it wasn't until two years later that he achieved his greatest accomplishment.

On Sept. 4, 1993, Abbott, as a member of the New York Yankees, pitched a complete game no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, which forever penned his name in the MLB record books.

After a 10-year major league career, Abbott announced his retirement from baseball during the 1999 season. For his career, he won 87 games and lost 108 with a 4.25 earned run average.

Abbott is a member of the Michigan Athletics Hall of Honor, the state of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the College Baseball Hall of Fame. His No. 31 Jersey was retired by the University of Michigan in 2009.