Speer caps historic run for Staples
David Speer set the standard of excellence on the mound for Staples. A senior captain for Staples before graduating in June, he leaves the program with most wins in its history with a 21-5 record, a 1.64 ERA, 224 strikeouts in 184 innings pitched, six shutouts and four saves.
"David will definitely go down as one of the best pitchers in Staples history, he leaves here with two FCIAC championships and an unbelievable record in the last three years," Wreckers Coach Jack McFarland said. "Every time he took the mound, he had a quality performance. The game David threw as a sophomore against a heavily favored Westhill team in 2008 to nail down the FCIAC Championship will always be remembered in Westport."
Developing into one of Staples' all-time greats wasn't something the lefty Speer strived for but he's happy with the results.
"It's definitely an honor," he said. "I had a lot of competition for it and it's been a fun three years. I never expected it."
During his three years on varsity, he was the Wreckers' ace and was First Team All-State junior and senior year and First Team All-FCIAC all three years. Senior year, he received the Block S award.
"It's definitely an amazing feeling to know my career was successful for three years," Speer said. "I always had confidence in myself but I never expected it to be as great as it was. I expected to be successful but I never thought it would be as immediate as it was."
After winning his first start sophomore year, he began to establish himself as one of the top pitchers in the state. He was undefeated in the regular season and led Staples to the first of two FCIAC titles, earning tournament MVP his sophomore year with two of the team's three wins during the tourney.
"I was very nervous for the first start and I didn't know what to expect, but after that, I knew what I could do and it was a matter of executing."
Following his success, Speer didn't rest on his laurels and remained unbeatable.
"I tried to keep everything the same and work off of it," he said. "I tried to repeat what I did the first year and I tried not to let anything bring me down. I tried to stay at the top of my game every time."
Being unhittable made him unstoppable on the mound. Constantly changing things up on the hill also helped him succeed.
"I didn't have velocity at first but I kept at it and through time, I grew stronger," Speer said. "I also worked out and built my strength up and I'm able to mix my pitches up. I love watching baseball and in a well-pitched game, I see a successful pitcher throw a lot of different pitches. When I got to middle school, it wasn't a problem."
He throws a fastball, curveball, cutter and changeup. His fastball tops out at 85 miles per hour (MPH) and he worked on his arm speed during the winter.
"It's what I use the majority of the time and when I need an out, that's what I'll go with it," he said. "Lot's of throwing and long tossing and extending the arm helped."
The cutter is his second best pitch and he likes it because he can throw it two different speeds, fast and slow, and inside and out.
"It's like throwing four different pitches," Speer said.
In throwing a curveball, he likes to keep it down and change arm speed. Speer throws it 70-75 MPH.
"I throw it with the same mentality as a fastball, only slower," he said. "It's the type of pitch that keeps the hitters out in front and off-balance."
One thing that makes a difference for him on the mound is being a southpaw.
"I think it's definitely an advantage being a lefty because batters don't usually see lefties and facing lefties is a different mindset," Speer said.
Life on the diamond began for him at age 4. From the time he began to play, he knew pitching came natural for him.
"It has always been my sport and I grew up loving it," Speer said. "Pitching has always been natural for me and it's the right fit."
In 2003, he pitched the Westport National League 9 and 10 year old All-Stars to the state title. Pitching in those games was a precursor to pitching the Wreckers to two FCIAC titles.
"It helped me a little because I knew what it was like to pitch in a very big game," Speer said.
Although he savored winning a state title before entering fifth grade, the two FCIAC titles mean more to him because they were more recent and he was playing at a higher level.
As a pitcher, he rarely hit. However, when given a chance at the plate, he holds his own. For Westport Senior Legion, Speer delivered a few clutch hits as an outfielder, first baseman and designated hitter.
"I hit the ball where it's pitched," he said.
In addition to baseball, he tried basketball in fifth grade and played until freshman year before quitting it to focus on baseball. Speer also played soccer in his earlier years before stopping in third grade.
Leadership is another strength of his as he served as captain, leading mostly by example. When he needed to talk, he never hesitated to do so.
"It was what I always wanted since freshman year and it was great running the team with [fellow captains] Jimmy [Sikorski], Jack [Hennessy] and Grant [Moss], who are my best friends and it was a lot of fun."
McFarland said, "David was a very good leader and a hard worker. He not only worked on pitching but on his fielding and pickoff moves as well."
Speer's leadership wasn't limited to varsity players. His brother Chris, who finished his freshman year and is also a lefty pitcher, looked up to him as well.
"David has definitely helped me," Chris Speer said. "I look for him for advice in how to throw on the mound and how to throw different pitches. He's a role model. He'll help me when he's home and I can always call him."
Academically, Speer took four AP courses senior year, one junior year and was in the top 15 to 20 percent of his class. Science is his favorite subject.
"I knew I had to study when I got home and I didn't procrastinate," he said. "I'll carry this trait to Columbia."
This fall, he'll attend Columbia University and pitch for the Lions.
"David will do great," McFarland said. "He'll get bigger and stronger, pitch the corners and get people out. He has a lot of potential and goes down as a Staples baseball legend."
He is undecided about his major and would like to get drafted by a Major League Baseball team.
"I'm going to try to impress the coach and I'll do what I do," Speer said. "I'll try to stay within myself and if I do it, I'll be fine."