Every ball player is superstitious one way or another. For senior David Self, it doesn’t matter what number is on his back so long as there isn’t a wad of gum in his mouth. A little bad luck in high school keeps the right-handed pitcher from blowing bubbles on the mound today.
But you’ll never see him out there without his lucky red Marine Corps T-shirt on under his uniform.
Maybe it serves as a reminder of his days back at the Naval Academy — where he spent his first two years before transferring to East Hill — or maybe there just isn’t enough red on his uniform as is. Either way, if the shirt helps him walk off with a win under his belt, that’s all that matters for him.
His only other pre-game ritual holds true to the philosophy that ‘the early bird gets the worm.’
“Usually if the game’s at twelve, I’ll get up at seven,” explained Self. “I read the paper, and then start to mentally think about what’s going to happen.”
It was a rough first season for Self last year. Despite earning five wins last year on the mound, Self’s season ended after he partially tore a ligament in the elbow of his pitching arm. The injury left him with two choices, surgery or rehab.
“They said I could have surgery, but [that] I wouldn’t be back for a year,” he explained.
With this being his final year, surgery was out of the question.
Through rehab he had only a 50/50 chance of a full recovery, and in his words, “I guess I got lucky.”
However, it will still take some time before Self returns to form.
“He needs to get his pitch count up and get his endurance back,” said head coach Tom Ford of what still needs to be tweaked by the righty.
Currently, Self is pitching three to four innings as opposed to the average five innings the rest of the rotation is throwing.
But the season is young, and by the time the Ivy series comes along he should be back in tip-top shape.
After being a part of the ball club for just one season, Self made a lasting impression on his team and was voted co-captain by his teammates.
“It’s pretty rewarding, and I was actually kind of surprised. I guess they saw some leadership [qualities] in me,” the hurler commented.
The choice came as no surprise to Ford.
“He’s been such a positive impact on the team. He’s always vocal and supportive [on the bench], and he creates excitement,” the coach offered. “He leads by example.”
Self is a gold mine of valuable wisdom to the rookies.
“I just tell them to be mentally prepared, and to take to heart what coach says,” he noted.
He may not be Randy Johnson, but at 6’3′, 205, Self is definitely a presence to be reckoned with on the mound. Described by Ford as a ground ball pitcher, Self is known to get good movement on his pitches and change speeds well. The most important weapon in his pitching arsenal was developed during his time at Annapolis, and that weapon of choice was the inside fastball.
“Most hitters don’t like to be pitched inside, so if you consistently do it, it plants a little seed in their minds that the inside fastball is coming,” Self said, dissecting his strategy.
“If you can establish pitches inside, a lot of things can come about from that and it poses a fear factor to the hitters.”
Along with being an ace in the Red’s rotation, David takes on the challenges of being a civil engineer. Surprisingly, the hectic life of an engineer/ballplayer doesn’t seem to faze Self whatsoever. His stint at the Naval Academy taught him the discipline he needs to juggle problem sets and practice.
“My biggest distraction is not so much getting my work done, but hanging out and partying with my friends,” Self said.
Fun and games aside, Self is a true competitor.
“I have a true love of the competition and not necessarily of the game,” he said. “I play well enough at this level, and when you’re good at something it’s fun.”
As for his personal goal this season, Self said with a little laugh, “to get through the season without getting my arm hurt.”
The southern bred boy from Charlotte, North Carolina was raised as a Red Sox fan. But it may turn out that Self will see his Red win an Ivy League championship before he sees the BoSox take home a World Series ring. With a deeper bullpen and the strong bats of a few freshmen this year, the hope of graduating with the Ivy title seems to be well within his grasp.
Archived article by Rachel Einschlag