Abbott revisits his own history in Cooperstown
Abbott, along with his parents Mike and Kathy, visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on June 13.
“I had a speaking event in Utica (N.Y.) not too far away and I just kind of put two and two together that I was in the neighborhood and I wanted to come and see the Hall of Fame,” said the 50-year-old Abbott, who now calls Southern California home. “My mom recently retired and my dad has been retired for a while. They live in Northern Michigan, and it’s not too bad of a drive for them, so I thought it would be a special family memory to meet up and come and see the Hall of Fame.”
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“The both love baseball. To see them here and to see the joy they get from seeing all this really makes it worth the trip.”
Abbott’s only other trip to Cooperstown came in the 1996 Hall of Fame Game, representing the Angels versus the Montreal Expos.
“My favorite memory of that was we dressed and undressed at a local gymnasium and there was a pool. As the guys would come out of the game everybody came back and the Expos and the Angels were swimming in this pool,” Abbott said. “And there were these high dive and you saw Moises Alou and Pedro Martinez jumping off this high dive. It was like a bunch of little kids in there.”
Arguably Abbott’s most memorable moment on the diamond occurred on Sept. 4, 1993. In his first season wearing Yankee pinstripes, having been traded to New York the previous offseason, he held the visiting Indians without a hit in a 4-0 victory. Abbott would later donate the cap he was wearing that special day – solid navy blue, size 7 ¼, with white interlocking "NY" insignia embroidered on front – to the Hall of Fame.
“I’m quite honored the cap is here. It’s right next to Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitter caps, which is a little humbling. And I saw a baseball from my no-hitter, too. I’m really touched,” said Abbott, after seeing the cap on display in the Museum’s One for the Books exhibit. “Baseball, in a lot of ways, is a family. There’s a connection, I think, that we all sort of share. To have something that you used and played with here in Cooperstown is very humbling. I never thought that that would happen in my life.
“As far as donating the cap, I don’t remember there being any hesitation. It was like, ‘Yes, of course, I’d love to have that displayed there.’ The fact that it happened with the Yankees I think makes it a little more of a cherished memory because it’s a great connection to a great organization and a great city.”
“And baseball is such a wonderful vehicle for telling stories and relating experiences. So I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do that. I’m really lucky that it has turned out to be something that people have invited me to do. One of the offshoots is I get to travel and see places like Cooperstown.”
Bill Francis is the Senior Research and Writing Specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum