David Speer: Great Pitcher, No Ego

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.

David Speer, in action for Columbia. (Photo/Mike McLaughlin for the New York Times)

David Speer, in action for Columbia. (Photo/Mike McLaughlin for the New York Times)

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.

David Speer

David Speer

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.)

6 responses to “David Speer: Great Pitcher, No Ego

  1. Great job!! Young Mr. Speer looks a lot like Frank Speer, Ann Speer and their sisters. I went to school with them, and Camp Mohawk with the sisters. Wonder if he’s related to them?!!

    • Tom Allen '66

      Hi Mandy! Frank, Ann and Caroline’s last name is Spear. Good thought, though.

  2. Steve Stein

    Roar Lion Roar!!

    Congratulations to David on a remarkable achievement- both Pitcher of the Year and the Ivy League baseball championship!!

    And this is not the first great Staples HS pitcher to go to Columbia! John Baumann (CT Basketball Player of the Year 2005) pitched for Columbia and helped the Lions win the Ivy League championship in baseball 2008-2009!

    I hope this will become a recurring pattern!!

    Go Wreckers!!

  3. Tom Reynolds

    Congratulations to the Columbia baseball team and congratulations to David Speer. He has been a success playing baseball since he started playing competitively, but you would never hear that from him. Many times kids and young adults that really excel in sports know they are something special and they in turn “carry” themselves in such a way that exudes obvious “attitude and cockiness”. But not David, who has always played without ego, has always been unselfish, and has always been a great teammate. During his days playing at various levels in the Westport area, I witnessed David on a few occasions stand up for his teammates when a coach would fly off the handle and berate a player. I don’t believe that anyone would dispute the fact that David was a major reason why the Staples baseball team achieved great success during his time there. I have not closely followed David’s time at Columbia but when I read the article this morning in the NY Times, there was not a single thing that surprised me . It is so rare to find somebody with the character that David has always exuded —— he has always let his playing do the talking for him. When the article says that Columbia looks for “character over athleticism” , they hit the lottery with David Speer as they got a really nice, respectful kid very strong in character AND athleticism.

  4. A late (and unfortunate) update: David had his appendix removed yesterday. So Columbia will definitely need to rely on their “team” spirit as the NCAA tournament begins!

  5. Tom Allen '66

    That’s really unfortunate, Dan. He’ll be out of action for the NCAAs, no matter how far Columbia advances. My apt bldg overlooks Columbia’s Baker Field athletic complex in northern Manhattan. I attend at least a couple of Lions games every baseball season but couldn’t fit any in my schedule this year. I would have loved to have seen David pitch but didn’t know he was on the Lions roster. Maybe next year. I saw Baumann pitch several times and more recently watched Andrew Kennedy make all-Ivy as Columbia’s tight end.