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Baseball: Final Frames Of the Olympic Games

2 minute read
Lee Griggs, Kumiko Makihara and Ellie Mcgrath/Seoul

Jim Abbott became the center of a celebratory sandwich after pitching the U.S. baseball team to a 5-3 gold medal victory over Japan. That win reversed the results of the 1984 Games, in which the Japanese humiliated the Americans by beating them at their own national pastime. “This was my dream of a lifetime,” Abbott said after he and the rest of his thrilled teammates were unpiled.

A collegiate All-American first-round draft choice of the California Angels, Abbott, 21, has impressed sports fans around the world with his grace and talent — despite being born without a right hand. In addition to his strong pitching performance — he went the full nine innings and scattered seven hits — Abbott made a dramatic fielding play in the bottom of the eighth to provide the U.S. with the emotional boost it needed to overcome the Japanese in the suspense-filled game. Seeming to gather momentum as he went along, the former University of Michigan star retired eleven of the last twelve batters.

The Americans posted a 4-1 record in the Olympic tournament, losing only to Canada after they had already made it into the medal round. Throughout the Seoul competition, the U.S. had been spurred on by the pitching of Abbott and Ben McDonald and the hot bats of outfielder Ted Wood and first baseman Tino ; Martinez. A Seattle Mariners draft choice, Martinez sealed the final victory with two home runs and four RBIs. Introduced to the Games as a demonstration sport in 1904 and reintroduced in 1984, baseball will at long last become a full-fledged Olympic event in Barcelona in 1992.

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