The sport of baseball has been host to many inspirational players over the years. An example of this long standing tradition is one-handed wonder Jim Abbott.
The University of Calgary Dinos Baseball Club held their annual charity dinner and hosted the former professional baseball player in the MacEwan Hall Ballroom Wed., Jan. 31.
Due to a congenital defect, Abbott was born without a right hand. He pursued his baseball aspirations and went on to reach major league and international success, winning 12 games with a 3.92 earned run average in his rookie season and participating in the 1988 Olympic games. He returned home with a gold medal and now speaks to many groups and youth organizations about his inspiring story.
"I loved baseball and I grew up different," recalled Abbott. "Like any other kid who's different, I got teased. Things like, 'Your hand looks like a foot.' I always had people who encouraged me. If the negativity pushed me down, I always had the encouragement to bring me back up."
Abbott added that while he doesn't see himself as a motivational speaker, there are many lessons that can be learned from his baseball experiences.
"When I played baseball, it was all about proving that I could do something," he said. "I didn't focus entirely or hardly at all on my hand. I just wanted to be as good a pitcher as I possibly could."
Bringing a high profile speaker like Abbott has benefited the Dinos program, garnering the attention of media and the community alike and giving many athletes the chance to meet some of their professional counterparts.
"Jim's is a great story," said Dinos baseball head coach A.J. Fystro. "He's a great inspiration for the guys [on the team]. It really puts a jump in their step after going to watch stuff like this and it's great exposure."