Yesterday, softball legend Monica Abbott announced her retirement from the game, along with the upcoming release of her autobiography. Monica was gracious enough to grant me an interview just moments after her announcement. That interview is at On the Beat With Monica Abbott.
Monica's resume is elite. Some highlights include:
- 2x Olympic Silver Medalist
- 5x National Pro Fastpitch champion
- 4x NPF MVP
- 6x Japan Softball League champion
- 2x Pan American Gold Medalist
Of course, this is just a very small sampling of her achievements.
That entire list is too long to print here. This space is better used giving my insider look at Monica, the pitcher and the person.
I first met Monica in 2014 when she was pitching for the NPF Chicago Bandits and I was covering the team. Of course I had heard of Monica, but I never saw her pitch prior to that. Being around the Bandits almost daily, I saw her regularly during the next two seasons. She moved on to the Scrap Yard Dawgs, but I still saw her when they came to town.
Monica was a fierce competitor. After seeing her pitch into extra innings one game, I asked her how long she would have pitched. Without hesitation, she said, “Until we won” and I had no doubt she meant it.
I saw Monica pitch a no-hitter and a perfect game. After one inning of her perfect game, I said she was going to do it. Her usually spectacular assortment of pitches had just a little extra that day.
She wasn't above a little joking, too. When I was about to bat in a charity game against the Bandits, I asked her for any advice. She smiled and told me to swing early, otherwise the pitch would be in the catcher's mitt before I knew it. She was right.
During her time with the Bandits, Monica never refused an autograph or picture request. I saw her sign long after the games ended. When she returned with the Dawgs or Team USA, she did the same, despite all other demands on her time. She also was kind enough to give me interviews, even though I wasn't writing for a huge media outlet. That was just Monica.
There are a select few athletes who transcend the sport. Every time I saw Monica pitch, I knew it was something special. The more I was around her, I also realized what a special person she was, too.
In our interview, she discussed soaking in special moments of her career, growing the sport and paying it forward, throwing out ceremonial pitches and her book. Monica looked relaxed, happy and at peace.
Her book, “Rise and Shine: The Monica Abbott Story” is now available for preorder. As I stated in the interview, I already ordered mine. Now I only hope to have her sign it on a book tour. Go to MonicaAbbott.com for ordering info.
Monica retired from softball today, but this won't be the last we hear from the legend. She might not know (or at least announce) what is next for her, but I am sure she will be successful at whatever it is.
On behalf of softball fans everywhere, thank you Monica for all you have done. From me personally, thank you for your kindness and friendship over the years.