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Virgen: Abbott keeps inspiring

Virgen's View

April 14, 2012|By Steve Virgen
  • Jim Abbott, right, shows Aaron West how to catch and throw with one hand, while West's mother, Tina, center, looks on during Abbott's book signing Saturday. Aaron was born without a left hand. Abbott was born without a right hand.
Jim Abbott, right, shows Aaron West how to catch and throw… (CHARLES EPTING )

Jim Abbott's story goes beyond baseball. He's seen further proof of this after writing his new book, "Imperfect: An Improbable life."

The famous former pitcher born without a right hand has served as an inspiration for many. That was seen at the Bella Terra Barnes & Noble Saturday afternoon during Abbott's book signing.

Shortly after talking about his book, Abbott, a Newport Beach resident, met a boy who was thrilled to meet his hero.

Aaron West, a 6-year-old dressed in a baseball uniform, made a simple statement in his small little voice shortly after meeting Abbott.

"I have the same kind of hand as you," West told Abbott just before posing for a picture together.

Abbott gave West pointers on how to play with the challenge, as the Little Leaguer was born without a left hand. Abbott also asked West to email him with updates on how he's doing.

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"He's going to do great," Abbott told West's mother, Tina.

The boy traveled with his mother from Grass Valley, about a 10-hour drive, just to meet Abbott.

It was well worth the trip.

Tina West described her son's meeting with Abbott as life-changing.

"He's never met anybody born the same way as him," Tina West said. "For the last three years we showed him pictures of Jim. First we showed him pictures of Jim playing baseball and then we showed him pictures that showed he didn't have a right hand, and said he's just like you. For him to meet Jim is just incredible."

Abbott, 44, looked just as happy to meet Aaron.

Abbott expressed his gratefulness to all those who attended at the bookstore, where an overflow crowd stood to meet the former major league pitcher who threw a no-hitter for the New York Yankees in 1993 and won an Olympic gold medal in 1988.

Several people wore Angels gear to support the former pitcher of their team. Jeanne Ferrara, a Barnes & Noble community relations manager, told the crowd that the store ran out of Abbott's book. But she assured them they could order the book and have Abbott sign a book plate for it.

"To have so much love and support here is absolutely incredible," Abbott told the crowd. "It means everything to me."

He spent 10 years in the big leagues. Thirteen years after playing his last game he wrote his book, co-authored by Tim Brown, a former Los Angeles Times writer who's now the national baseball writer for Yahoo.

Brown met Abbott in 1990 when the reporter was working for the L.A. Daily News, covering the Angels. Brown was in attendance Saturday.

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