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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Imperfect: An Improbable Life by Jim Abbott and Tim Brown

Entertaining Sports Autobiography

Published by Ballantine Books in April of 2012

Jim Abbott will always be known as "that one-handed pitcher" and in Imperfect he discusses the fact that his life has always been defined by his birth defect. Or, has it? As I read this book I found myself wondering if his missing hand limited him, propelled him or if he would have gone just as far if he had had both hands?

Abbott and Brown work together to create a very readable, entertaining book. I found the descriptions of 1970s and 1980s era Flint, Michigan and his life growing up just as compelling as his stories of how he overcame the difficulties he encountered by having just one hand.

I was aware of Jim Abbott as he played but as his career waned I lost track of him. Also, I had no memory of his playing in the 1987 Pan-American games in Indianapolis even though I have always lived in Indiana and those games were a very big deal when Indianapolis hosted them.

Abbott tells the story as a series of flashbacks told as he describes his no-hitter he pitched on September 4, 1993 against the Cleveland Indians. It is an interesting way to build the book - the book ends with his success in the game as he describes a frustrating erosion of his skills as a pitcher that caused him to retire in 1999. We hear precious little about his post-baseball life. If the assumption was that the average reader would not care, that is a disservice. I would have enjoyed reading more about his transition to the non-baseball world.

I was especially touched by his tales of parents bringing kids to meet him when he was a major leaguer. He grew weary of them because they could be emotionally draining, but he ended up appreciating the fact that he was a living example of overcoming a problem that certainly would have stopped most people. It is a testament to Abbott that he grasped his value of his celebrity and used it in such a personal way.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Imperfect: An Improbable Life

Reviewed on April 3, 2012.

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