Born without a right hand, southpaw Jim Abbott went directly from the University of Michigan to the Angels’ starting rotation in the spring of 1989 without spending a day in the minor leagues. Many considered the move a publicity stunt by manager Doug Rader, but after struggling early, Abbott proved his doubters wrong by winning 12 games with a 3.92 ERA in his rookie season.
On the mound, Abbott wore a right-hander’s fielder’s glove over the stump at the end of his right arm. While completing his follow-through after delivering a pitch, he rapidly switched the glove to his left hand so he could handle any balls hit back to him.
Abbott’s career had its ups and downs. In 1991 he looked like one of the best young left-handers in the game after winning 18 games for the Angels while posting a 2.89 ERA. He was traded to the Yankees in December 1992 and in the heat of the pennant race tossed a 4-0 no-hitter against Cleveland. He only rarely recaptured his early promise, however, and suffered a horrific 2-18, 7.48 ERA season in 1996. Given that he could only swing with one arm, his most impressive accomplishments may have been his two hits in 23 career at-bats.