Columbia University has been playing baseball since 1888. This year — in their 126th season — the Lions set a team record for wins (29). They repeated as Ivy League champions. And they boast one of the best pitchers in the country.
That would be senior David Speer, who in high school led Staples to 2 FCIAC championships, and earned a pair of All-State honors in the process.
A story in today’s New York Times explores one reason for the team’s success: emphasizing character over athleticism.
“We try to go above and beyond to find really good, unselfish people who fit in,” Coach Brett Boretti said. “We really feel the type of individual we’re recruiting is the most important thing.”
Speer epitomizes that trait.
The Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, he led the nation with 4 shutouts. He went 7-2 with a 1.86 ERA, striking out 75 and walking only 7.
His coach called Speer “one of the best pitchers in the country. That’s the 1st time anybody ever said that in my 9 years here. He’s competed against the best and given us a shot every time.”
The Times said that many universities did not recruit Speer because his low-80s-mph fastball seemed unimpressive. But Boretti liked his 21-5 record at Staples, which spoke volumes.
“He probably has the least amount of ego of any of our pitchers,” Boretti said. “You would never know he is one of the best pitchers in the country.”
Speer is an economics and political science major. He and the Lions open NCAA tournament play on Friday in Coral Gables, Florida. Their 1st game is against Texas Tech.
(Hat tip to John Karrel for passing the Times story along.)