Andy Shuping's Reviews > Imperfect: An Improbable Life

Imperfect by Jim Abbott
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Aug 01, 12


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When I was growing up I wasn’t really into sports. I could barely play them and they just didn’t do much for me. But I did like reading baseball stories and I remember reading in “Sports Illustrated for Kids” about Jim Abbott...the one handed baseball pitcher who pitched for the US Olympic Team and threw a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. And something about that story resonated with me, his perseverance, his desire to be known not as the one handed pitcher but just as a baseball player, and ever since then he’s been one of my favorite athletes. So I was really excited about having the chance to read his story. And what a powerful story it is.

The story alternates between Jim’s life growing up and one of the defining moments of his baseball career...the day that he threw a no-hitter in 1993 against the Cleveland Indians. Jim walks us through that day, from getting up and eating breakfast with his wife, to arriving at the ballpark, to the nerves throughout the day, to the very last out. He gives us a look into what it’s like to hear the boos and the roar of the crowd for this defining moment. And just how this story relates to his life.

Jim’s story begins with his daughter and her kindergarten class. He came for bring your parent to class day and she asked a question that he had never been asked before, yet one that permeated his life. “Do you like your little hand?” And from that point forward Jim shares with us his desire, his drive, and his perseverance to be known for more than just his hand, but for being a baseball pitcher and more importantly for being a good human being.

And that is actually my favorite aspect of this book. Jim being humble, thankful for what he had, for what others didn’t have, for what he could do to help others like him. It’s not necessarily what he wanted, but he did it anyway. Not by trying to make any grand gestures and appearances, but by simply being himself. Greeting the fans, talking to them, answering each and every letter that came his way just to let them know not to give up. His story reveals that he’s more than just a baseball pitcher, but a good person. And I’m sure some folks are reading this thinking “oh it’s an autobiography he could just be making it up,” but that’s not the way it reads at all. Jim isn’t bragging about anything and he doesn’t really try to make any of these aspects stand out, but they do anyway because that's the type person he is.

This book isn’t just for fans of baseball. It’s a book about a humble man who was also a baseball pitcher. It’s filled with humor, insight into the sports world, and humanity. I highly recommend this book and it’s one that folks should read at least once. And then see how they feel about reading it a few more times after that.
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