The Michigan Daily-- Monday, October 15, 1990 - Page 11
l& 14 c K6 4o, 7I 466 o ,s
The former Wolverine pitcher
Fans respond to
discusses life in the maj
Jim Abbott pitched for Michigan
until 1988, when he %- named
MVP of the Big Ten. In 1987, he
won the Sullivan award for being
the top amateur athlete in the
*nited States. He has also won the
olden Spikes award, presented to
the best amateur baseball player in
the country. His record as a
Wolverine pitcher was 26-9, and he
was drafted in the first round of the
1988 amateur baseball draft by the
Cal'fornia Angels. He immediately
joined the Angels' starting rotation
and has won 22 games for California
in his two big league seasons. What
Takes Abbott's story even more im-
pressive is the fact that he was born
without a right hand. Daily sports
writer Eric Sklar had the chance to
talk with Abbott after he pitched in
yesterday's alumni baseball game.
Daily: Coming out of high
school into the Michigan program,
did you have any doubts about
whether or not you could pitch on
' ecollege level?
Abbott: A little bit. You never
know what the next level is going to
bring. There were a lot of good play-
ers here when I came here, Casey
Close, Hal Morris, and a bunch of
others. I had some doubts.
D: Was it the same situation
when you went to the major
A: There's thesame kind of un-
*ertainty about the next level.
D: Were you surprised that you
made it into the major leagues right
A: Sort of. If you asked me if I
ever would've thought that would've
happened, I don't think I would've
said that. I was lucky that I was with
a team that needed pitching and the
situation was open.
D: Last year, the Angels' season
was a little bit disappointing coming
off the year that you all had two
years ago. Did you expect to be a lot
better this year?
A: I think expectations are kind
of a tough thing to deal with. When
you expect certain numbers and cer-
tain things to happen, you get your-
self into trouble, so I try not to do
that. I think that's what happened
with our team this year. We expected
to contend with Oakland and a lot of
things came into play. I try not to
set too high expectations, but I still
try to set reasonable goals.
D: What are your goals as a ma-
jor league pitcher?
A: I think over the last couple of
years I've just been trying to im-
prove, which I think I did a lot last
year. And just try to build a founda-
tion for a good career and get the
most of my ability. To be able to
look back and know that I worked as
hard as I could.
A: I don't really try to be more
than who I am. I play baseball for a
living, and I've been really fortunate
to have opportunities to play at dif-
ferent levels. Because of that I've had
a lot of exposure. If people get more
out of my playing, then that's fine. I
don't try to be a role model or any-
thing like that. If people draw inspi-
ration from my playing baseball,
then that's fine. Outside of that, I
don't think it's fair to put that upon
somebody. To ask them to be more
D: Obviously, you have a lot of
talent. Do you think that your hand-
icap discouraged college or major
league scouts when they were scout-
A: I don't think so. I think that if
you look back, with my being here,
I got a chance to play at a Big Ten
school, and, obviously, I've had the
opportunity in the pros. Maybe
some people thought that way, but
there were more people who gave me
a chance, and I'm thankful for that
D: What was it like to play on
the U.S. Olympic team?
A: Playing on the Olympic team
was fantastic. Winning the gold
medal was an experience that I
thought I would never have. It was
the best day of my life.
D: Was it something that you
A: Well, I don't think so. I don't
think as a baseball player, you really
dream too much about playing in the
Olympics. If you get the opportu-
nity, you're really fortunate. To
pitch that last game was a tremen-
D: Does all the publicity that
you get bother you? Do you get tired
A: You don't pay too much at-
tention to it after a while. I play the
games, and I'll keep some personal
time to myself. I'm pretty much a
private person. I don't like too much
of it to get in my life. I just try to
say no and disappear.
Three weeks ago, I wrote that I thought Michigan's
fans were not quite up to par. Saturday's crowd was
possibly the best I've seen, but the game was one of the
most exciting I've ever seen. Before laying the issue to
rest once and for all, I thought I'd turn this column over
to the readers who voiced their opinions this week. I
thank everyone who took their time to write or call to
show their concern.
Surprisingly, support of my thesis was far greater
than I expected. Many fans shared the same opinion.
Here are some of the responses:
To the editor:
Hats off to Mike Gill for having the courage to say
what had to be said: "'M' Fans: Wake up!" (September
Ever since coming to Michigan last fall, I have been
amazed by the attitudes of what would appear to be
typical Michigan fans - students, alumni, local sports
editors, etc. It would seem that none of Michigan's
opponents are ever expected to score against the home
team. If they dared do so, fans and editors seem to either
get edgy or insist that Michigan suffered a letdown of
some kind. What a complacent attitude! Aren't there any
other good football teams in America? Has success
spoiled the fan, making he or she think in such a
Worth mentioning in my opinion, however, is the
attitude of the student cheering section against Maryland.
In my mind, it was the best I've seen it in two years. It
was truly a great day for Michigan and its fans. We did
the wave, partook of some singing, pranced to the tune
of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and stayed interested in the
game, even till the end.
On that day, I was proud, for the first time to be a
Wolverine fan. I think Mike Gill's column had some
effect. Something happened, that's for sure.
What appears to be lacking, on a grand scale, is
SCHOOL SPIRIT! You know, the way you used to feel
back in high school? If there was a way that we all could
transfer some of that old enthusiasm to our new alma
mater, things would change in a hurry.
Jack Kelly, Graduate Student
School of Natural Resources
Dear Michigan Daily,
I am a Michigan football fan, but my brother Mark is
a bigger fan and has been longer. Sometimes I can't
decide whether to root for them or Michigan State. I
remember the game they won 24-15 - I think in 1980.
I really don't see what's wrong with Michigan fans.
Anytime a team wins as often as they do, fans tend to go
"less nuts" when their team plays. When the Canadians
won their Stanley Cups in the 1970's, I remember that
the fans just seemed to sit and watch the game
Winning is fun, but that is not really the true test of
a fan. Some people desert you when you come in second
place in a pool tournament. I know some people who are
glad I came in second. I won last night - I'm glad that
my two friends were there and they didn't desert me. I'll
take two true friends rather than 2,000 fair weather ones.
P.S. Red Wing fans are the best in the world.
Although I was rather disappointed with firing Jacques.
Nothing personal against Mr. Murray, but I'd rather have,
seen them replace him with John Brophy.
Joe: I've got to ask you some questions. What the
hell are you rambling about? And what's your last
name? And how the heck did you get around to
discussing some pool tournament? If you want
coverage, call the Daily. And how did you finish in
second place? Did you mess up and hit the eight ball in
the hole before you were supposed too? It was 1978 that
MSU won, not 1980, but I'm glad to hear that your
brother's a big fan too. Thanks for the info. And how.:
can you call yourself a Jacques Demers fan when you
want the ultimate Demers hater in John Brophy to tako-
his job? Get a clue.
I wrote the attached note prior to seeing your column
in the Michigan Daily (September 24, 1990). Having
live wolverine in residence at U-M might help spark fan
enthusiasm. It doesn't necessarily mean one has to have:
the wolverine at the stadium on football Saturdays.
The wolverine could stay at its quarters - where fans
could visit before and after games and at other times. For'
that matter, it may be that fan enthusiasm is more a state
of mind than a measurement in decibels. Maybe it's a'
good feeling somnewhere within.
Enough of this - let's think about Saturday.e
Class of 1954
Here is what Dr. Whale's research found:
In looking back into the history of mascots for U-M
teams, I discovered articles in various issues of the Mich-
igan Daily (fall of 1927) pertaining to the appearance of
two live wolverines (borrowed from the Detroit Zoo) in
at least two football games that fall, including the one
that marked the dedication of Michigan Stadium.
The May/June 1989 issue of the U-M Alumni
Magazine had an article reporting the appearance of
"Treppy," a live wolverine, at the Michigan-Michigan
State football game in 1939. This wolverine lived in a
small zoo behind the U-M Natural Science Museum.
The concept of having a live wolverine or two, at U-
M seems feasible today. In recent years, the Milwaukee
County Zoo has had two wolverines in residence, though
one has since died. Maybe "superfan" Adam Miller (see
Michigan Daily September 19, 1990) would support suchC
a plan. We'd need a name or names and a suitable
Dr. Whale: In talking with Interim Athletic Director
Jack Weidenbach I told him of your suggestion. "Ar~,
there any live wolverines," he asked. Weidenbach told of
a stuffed one which used to sit in his office and now,
presides in the Center of Champions. I think that's as
close as we'll get to a live wolverine entering Ann
Arbor city limits. It's a novel idea, and it sure as heck
beats Willy the Wolverine.
D: Have you been working on
any new pitches or anything new?
A: Well, I've been working on an
off-speed pitch a little bit. I've been
working on everything overall.
There's always something to work
D: Who's the toughest hitter for
you to pitch against?
A: George Brett.
D: Are the Royals as a team the
toughest for you to face?
A: No. Oakland's an awful tough
team. They can do a lot of different
things to you. The Royals have been
pretty tough also. They're all pretty
D: Because of your handicap,
people look up to you as a role
model. Have you tried to do that or
do you think people admire you be-
cause of what you've accomplished? .
("Shut Out State")
It's simple. It's fast.
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