The Jim Abbott Of South Louisiana

I rarely post uplifting items but there was afront page story in Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune that melted my icy blue heart. It’s about Timmy Ruffino who is an eight year old little leaguer with the same disability that former big league pitcherJim Abbott overcame. Timmy calls it his “little hand.” The story is even more of a tear jerker because young Timmy and his family were flooded out of their house in St. Bernard Parish in 2005. Jim Abbott is, of course, Timmy’s idol.

I guess I’m a sucker for this story because I’ve always been interested in guys who played in the big leagues despite major disabilites:Pete Gray, Lou Brissie, Monty Stratton and, yes, Jim Abbott. When you hear their stories it makes your own problems seem small in contrast and anything that keeps me from bitching is a good thing.

End of semi-uplifting post, readjusting snark-o-meter for the next post…

8 thoughts on “The Jim Abbott Of South Louisiana

  1. i had a boy who had that in one of my grade schools. he was quite athletic, and we didn’t pay much attention, not in my class, so i don’t know if he was teased.

  2. I played little league with a kid that had the same kind of thing. I wonder if it’s more common than is understood. The same kid played a bit of goalkeeper in soccer.

  3. You are correct, Sue. I shoulda mentioned Three Finger; especially since I recently read the terrific book about the 1908 beisbol season.

  4. Another name that crossed my mind is Jim Eisenreich. As he was coming up through the minors, he would have these (for lack of a better word) attacks that would cause him to pull himself off the field and out of the lineup. He didn’t know what it was; and management et al would blame it on nerves, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. Finally, after years and years, he was diagnosed with Tourettes, and – as the wiki article says – he left baseball altogether to undergo treatment. After a couple years, he made it back to the majors, and was a pretty decent player.
    (I saw Abbott pitch a couple times in Anaheim. I have one vivid recollection of an afternoon game against the Brewers, the batter hit a sharp comeback to him, which he handled so smoothly that it drew almost no reaction from the crowd at all; just a comebacker to the mound, no big deal. And that was the really amazing thing…how ‘normal’ he made it all.)

  5. I went to school with Tony Bartirome, Jr., whose dad, a href=””>Tony Sr., was trainer for the Pittsburgh Pirates (the Pirates train in Bradenton, FL, where I grew up).
    Tony, Jr. was born without a right forearm & hand thanks to Thalidomide; all he had were a few tiny fingers sticking out of his arm where his elbow should have been. Tony was one of the best players on our school baseball team, and the speed with which he could field a ball, tuck the glove under his arm, drop the ball into his left hand and throw it to the baseman was unbelievable. It was all a blur.
    Tony’s an attorney now, but he grew up as a kind of mascot for the Pirates, and the team (both the Pirates and our school team) never saw him as anything but a great guy and phenomenal player – he wasn’t disabled, he just had his own style.
    Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

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