No obstacle is too big to overcome for Jim Abbott, this year’s NTDA Keynote Presenter, who will address attendees of the 30th Annual NTDA Convention Awards Dinner on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.
After being born without a right hand, the pursuit to making it to the major leagues did not deter him. The ability to play baseball is innate. His athleticism and control secured Abbott’s position as the California Angels’ 1988 first-round draft pick. Disregarded in over 70% of the team’s preferential draft lists, Abbott went on to become one of only three pitchers during his decade to win their first professional game.
In preparation for the 1988 draft, the Angels compiled 19 preferential lists, each completed by a separate scout. Out of these 19 hierarchies, Abbott’s name appeared six times, once at the top position. Steve Gruwell and George Bradley conducted individual scouting reports of Abbott, offering an estimated valuation of 100,000 and 150,000, respectively. Neither mentioned that Abbott lacks a right hand.
As the first baseball player to win the Sullivan Award as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete in 1987, Abbott went on to represent Team USA and became the first American pitcher in 25 years to beat a Cuban team on Cuban soil. The team won a silver medal at the Pan-American Games and Abbott won the U.S. Baseball Federation’s Golden Spikes award as the best amateur player in the country.
In the 1988 Olympics, Abbott was the winning pitcher in a 5–3 victory over Japan that brought the U.S. its first gold medal in baseball. His most famous highpoint is throwing a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in 1993. Abbott played for 10 seasons on four different teams; ending his big league playing career in 1999.
Now, Abbott shares how he was able to overcome perceived limitations and reach his dreams. He encourages you to find something you love, and to go after it with all your heart. His story has been featured
in numerous magazines including Time and Sports Illustrated; and he has appeared on several shows
including ESPN, Good Morning America and CNN.
Abbott’s control and understanding of his body from an early age fostered the success of his unique style of
both pitching and catching with his left hand. Abbott was born in Flint, MI. He has worked with The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy on several initiatives encouraging businesses
to hire people with disabilities. Today, in addition to often being a guest pitching instructor during Spring
Training for the Los Angeles Angels, Abbott speaks on overcoming adversity. Abbott will be happy to meet
with Awards Dinner attendees after his presentation.
Signed copies of his book Imperfect: An Improbable Life will be given to Dealers who register for the NTDA Convention by Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. Convention registration and housing open in April 2020. Look for more information coming soon in TrailerTalk, in the NTDA eNews, and online at www.ntda.org!