Abbott keeps helping

Last month, Jim Abbott visited KidWorks in Santa Ana.

Abbott, the former Major League Baseball pitcher, says he stays busy these days, speaking to various people and motivating many about the story of his life and about succeeding despite being born without a right hand.

The Newport Beach resident has fast become known for someone who gives back and does his best to help others in Orange County.

So it makes sense that he was at KidWorks, the non-profit charity that serves at-risk children, teens and families.

Abbott also received a treat. He was there four days after his birthday, and the kids and staff sang him, "Happy Birthday."

Abbott also reflected while at KidWorks. He said the place reminded him of a familiar spot.

"It's a tremendous organization," Abbott said. "It reminds me a lot of the generosity I was offered in Flint, Michigan. I see a lot of parallels from Flint and Santa Ana. I was pleased to spread the word to the people who can provide opportunities for kids. And, provide some hope."

Abbott will be the keynote speaker at KidWorks annual Foundation For Success luncheon Nov. 14 at the Double Tree Hotel in Santa Ana. The event is a big fundraiser for the organization.

Abbott will help raise funds for life-changing after-school programs offered at the KidWorks Dan Donahue Center. He is a part of a special anniversary video, a celebration of 20 years of changing the lives of inner-city youth.

Those interested in attending, tickets are priced at $295 per person and can be reserved at

Abbott is also among former Angels players who will be a part of the eighth annual Bank of America Orange County Little League Challenger Classic Saturday at Angel Stadium. More than 900 children with physical and mental disabilities from 30 Challenger Division Little League teams will play ball in the event.

In addition to speaking engagements and special appearances, Abbott is a dad who follows his two daughters and their competition in athletics.

His youngest daughter, Ella, 13, is in water polo.

"I sit there for 40 minutes and I don't know what's going on," he joked. "It's very different from Michigan. But it's becoming a bigger sport all around and especially around here."

His oldest daughter, Maddy, 16, is a standout junior setter for the Sage Hill School girls' volleyball team. Maddy's team is ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division 3-A. The Lightning suffered their first Academy League loss Tuesday at Crean Lutheran. They'll try to bounce back from that. Dad will no doubt be around to encourage her.

Abbott took time out last week to answer a few questions from the Daily Pilot.

Question: Who do you usually speak to, kids or adults?

Answer: A little bit of both. If it's here in the area I usually speak to kids. I do get out and travel with organizations. That is always a nice opportunity.

Around here I meet with a lot of groups of different ages. Baseball can transcend a lot of boundaries. I am lucky to share all of those things.

Q: How did the book do, your autobiography, "Imperfect: An Improbable Life"?

A: It did great. We made a couple of best-seller lists. Just the response to it was great, from people who are a part of my life. It was an incredible experience to write it. I would encourage everyone to look back on their own life. I don't know if I would have done that if it wasn't for the book. It really gave me a great appreciation for my life.

Q: What happened to the Angels this year?

A: Pitching is such a big part of the game. Losing [Jered] Weaver early in the season for that long hurt them. Him hurting his wrist really hurt them. They went on some losing streaks. The momentum could've been in a different direction if he never got hurt.

The playoffs this year have shown again that pitching is where it's at. The starters are key and that bullpen is so important. That was an aspect that, for whatever reason, didn't work out for the Angels.

Q: Who's your pick to win the World Series?

A: I'm going with the Cardinals. Just those beards, I just can't get with that. Mike Matheny was a catcher at the University of Michigan, so I like him. But I don't have a dog in that fight.

As for the Cardinals, I never really appreciated the great organization they have. They just seem to keep pushing right along and winning.

Some of the Cardinals' young arms, it's just amazing. That's the one thing that has changed about the game from when I played, it's the velocity of pitching. They all have power arms now. The Cardinals are the epitome of that. Every guy they bring in they are throwing 94 mph.

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