But the one-handed kid loved baseball. He loved it so much that he threw away that clunky prosthesis and played catch with his dad for hours. He perfected the art of fielding the ball, shoving the glove between his arm and torso, grabbing the ball with his left hand and whipping it back to his father. Eventually the one-hander from Flint, Michigan, fielded as well as any other boy.
But it was impossible for Jimmy to tie his shoes. So his mom fixed them every morning. But she wasn’t there during the day to retie them. That’s when his third-grade teacher, Don Clarkson, changed his life. The teacher put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “I’ve figured out how to do it.” He took Jimmy out in the hallway and demonstrated how to tie his shoes with one hand. Jimmy later discovered that Mr. Clarkson had spent tedious hours figuring out the trick to tying shoelaces one-handed.
Jimmy says that Mr. Clarkson’s act of devotion was the most inspiring moment of his life. If someone would go to all that trouble for him, nothing was impossible for him to accomplish. He went on to the University of Michigan where he became a pitching phenom. After he won the Sullivan Award as America’s best amateur athlete, he led the US team to a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics. That year the California Angels drafted him in the first round. Fans who streamed into ballparks to watch him were amazed that he could field grounders and throw out runners as well as any two-handed pitcher in the majors. His best year was 1991 when he finished third in the Cy Young Award voting. But nothing compared to the magical game at Yankee Stadium in 1993 when he pitched a no-hitter. One handed Jim Abbot from Flint, Michigan, had achieved baseball immortality in the house that Babe Ruth built.
Yet he often says that his many achievements and awards don’t compare to Mr. Clarkson showing him how to tie his shoes. That third-grade teacher remains the greatest influence in his life. Having starred in America’s pastime, Jim would tell you that his favorite pastime today is teaching kids how to tie their shoes. None of us can imagine the impact of a single act of kindness. As amazing as Jim Abbott’s story is, Don Clarkson’s is even better. His kindness inspired an imperfect boy to go on to baseball perfection. Why don’t you go out today and do an act of kindness? Only heaven will reveal its impact.
No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
Growing in Kindness Together...