David Wayne Russo, a 22-year-old Monterey native, began his baseball career at five years old, when his dad handed him his first bat and glove.
“My dad was a big sports guy and baseball was his love," he said. "He kind of passed that down to me.”
Russo’s dad was on a traveling team when he was growing up, so he has memories of traveling with his parents
while his dad played.
According to Russo, his dad is the one who taught him how to play baseball.
“My dad’s been a huge part of my success,” he said.
Russo comes from a tight-knit Italian family, and when he first started at SJSU, he would go home every other weekend just to get a home-cooked meal.
Russo’s said his mom has also been a very helpful force in his life.
“My mom was always there,” he said.
Russo said his senior year of high school was a highlight of his baseball career because
scouts started looking at him for scholarships.
Russo, a business management major, started at SJSU as a freshman in the fall of 2009 after receiving a scholarship to play baseball.
“It seems like yesterday,” he said.
According to Russo, there are no words to explain how it feels to follow your dreams.
“It’s great to play college baseball,” he said.
Russo said he would never consider it a job.
After starting out as a relief pitcher for the Spartans in 2010, Russo worked his way into the starting rotation and made his first collegiate start last season, according to SJSU Athletics.
Russo was second on the team with 59 innings pitched and third with 41 strikeouts last season, according to SJSU Athletics.
As a left-handed pitcher, Russo said he has
a more natural movement on the baseball while pitching , and being a left-handed pitcher has other advantages.
“As a lefty, you’re more wanted by teams,” he said.
Russo said the natural movement is an advantage for him in executing pitches.
So far on the season, Russo is third on the team in innings pitched with 14.1 and is the only Spartan pitcher to have picked off a base runner this season, according to SJSU Athletics.
He is also tied for first on the team in both wins and games started, according to SJSU Athletics.
When he is not on the field, Russo is in the pool.
“I really enjoy swimming,” he said.
Russo lettered one year in water polo in high school according to SJSU Athletics.
Michael Fowler and J.J. Sherrill, Russo's former Monterey High School coaches, agree that he was a hard worker.
“The thing that separated David Wayne (Russo) was that he had great work ethic,” Sherrill said.
One memory he has of Russo is when he pitched against St. Francis in San Jose, who were the top team in the Central Coast Section, according to Sherrill.
It was Russo’s senior year and he
collected 12 strikeouts — the team lost but it was a great game, according to Sherrill.
“He really stepped up to the plate,”
Russo was chosen as Monterey County Player of the Year and set a single-season school record for strikeouts with 128 in 83.1 innings, according to SJSU Athletics.
Fowler describes Russo as being very competitive, honest and humble.
“He takes everything in stride, he’s very down-to-earth,”
Fowler said Russo has integrity and has put himself in a position to succeed.
“He would not let anyone tell him he could not achieve any goal he had for himself,”
According to Fowler, Russo was determined to play baseball at a high level.
“He was always pretty much better than everyone else,” he said.
Russo said he hasn’t put a lot of thought into what he wants to do after leaving SJSU, but said he wants to continue playing baseball for as long as possible.
“If baseball doesn’t work out, there’s always the option of going out into the real world,” he said.