Michigan Athletics Director Bill Martin announced yesterday plans to retire former Wolverine baseball player Jim Abbott's number 31. The actual ceremony will take place before the April 18th game against Michigan State. Abbott will join Don Lund (1943-45), Moby Benedict (1954-56), Bill Freehan (1961) and coach Ray Fisher (1921-58) as the only retired numbers in Michigan baseball history.
This is an appropriate tribute to a truly exceptional person. If you don't know Jim Abbott's story, take a look at the video. Jim was a friend during my time in Ann Arbor. We had several classes together and lived in the same area of campus, frequently walking against the cold wind up State street towards the Diag. I remember the first time I met him during his freshman year. I actually thought he was a student trainer because he wore official gear (black nike turf shoes) almost every day. There was no way this shy dude with one hand was a player. Boy... was I wrong.
Two years and 26 wins later he won the Golden Spikes Award, the baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. He was also the 1987 Big Ten athlete of the year. He also pitched Team USA to an Olympic Gold Medal. He was a 1st round draft pick of the Angels and pitched 10 years in the majors for several teams, including a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium. Today Jim is a motivational speaker. I wish the ceremony was the weekend of April 11th because I would love to be there to give him a standing ovation.
Congrats Jim !! Go Blue !