Time flies on Spessard's career, but benefits stay put

May 19, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Gerry Spessard is feeling a little windblown.

It seems like just yesterday the Smithsburg graduate was heading to the University of Maryland to play baseball. And now ...

"It seems like it just flew by," Spessard said after Maryland completed its season on May 12. "I came in here as a young 18- year-old. It is a humbling experience to go from a small school to be among the best in the (Atlantic Coast Conference)."

It's time to realize it is all over. The Terrapins' 6-4 loss to Delaware signaled the end of an up-and-down season for Maryland. It also signaled the end of Spessard's career.


"It really hasn't set in that I'm done with baseball," said Spessard last week. "I'm busy studying for a final. ... After that, it might hit me. It's ridiculous. They tell us to enjoy it while you are playing and now it's ridiculous, because it's done."

The five-year journey has been a total learning process for Spessard. First, he learned a few lessons about playing the game and then he learned the lessons of leadership that go with being one of the team's veterans.

"Five years is a lot of baseball," he said. "The whole experience helped me so much."

On the baseball side, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Spessard started in 197 of the 209 games he played for the Terps, hitting .252 with 12 home runs and 103 RBIs.

The left-handed hitter hit .260 this year with two home runs and 21 RBIs as Maryland finished 27-27 overall and 10-20 in the ACC, leaving the Terps two games short of qualifying for the league tournament.

"It was tough getting everything together," Spessard said. "The offense would produce runs, but the pitching wouldn't hold up. Other times the pitching was good and we didn't score runs."

The Terps played their best in the last week, giving the seniors a proper sendoff. Maryland swept Wake Forest to stay in contention for the tournament. Spessard went 3-for-7 with three walks in the series.

"We swept Wake in the first part of May and we finished strong," Spessard said. "It was great to go out on a good note. It's unfortunate, but we are in a conference with six teams in the Top 25, so that leaves us fighting for the seventh seed."

The road to maturity and leadership has been a bit more successful for Spessard.

"As a fifth-year guy, the coaches wanted me to be a leader," Spessard said. "When I was starting and when I wasn't playing, they wanted me to lead. There were a lot of seniors on this team, but there were a lot of young guys, too.

"I've been able to make some contacts that helped me get to graduate school and then will help in law school, where I'd plan to go. In playing college sports, there is a bond with these guys. You don't have time to go out or get into a fraternity, so the players on the team are your brothers."

The time wearing a Maryland baseball uniform may have gone by quickly, but Spessard says he will benefit from the experiences when he slips on a business suit.

"One of the biggest things I learned was no matter what, the hardest thing is falling down. You just have to remember to keep getting up," he said. "I want to be happy. I wish the team could have won more games and made the ACC tournament, but I have accomplished so much."

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