wears his bruises with great pride – like a shining badge of honor. They are as treasured to him as Purple Hearts are to wounded soldiers.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior left fielder is leaving a legacy of a different kind at Pinson Valley (Pinson, Ala.)
King set a state baseball record this year when he was hit by pitches 28 times – just one short of the national record. The previous Alabama record was 26.
Just missing the national record probably hurt more than getting plunked by 90 mph fastballs.
"It kind of hurt for a minute, but it felt good to almost break the national record," King told MaxPreps.
He still dwells on the half dozen times he was hit and the plate umpire refused to let him take his base because it was ruled that he leaned into the pitch.
"I'm bruised pretty much and have a lot of cuts from sliding," he pointed out. "My back doesn't hurt as much, but I've gotten hit in the legs and arms. The elbow is the worst spot. The very first pitch (of a doubleheader against McAdory) I got hit and I could not move my hand the whole day. Best is the back, because by the time I get to first base the pain is gone."
How does he handle the pain?
"I've never been scared to get hit," King emphasized. "I got hit in eight straight games this year. I just shake it off. You'll see another day. I don't use ice or pain pills. I've got my own medicine – I just walk it off."
King obviously has a high tolerance for pain. Getting hit is nothing new, because he estimates he has been hit at least 10 times a year since he played Dizzy Dean baseball as a 13-year-old.
The Indians, under first-year coach Josh Johnson, actually do daily drills teaching how to get hit. Johnson picked up the strategy by watching Greg Goff's program at the University of Montevallo.
"It's an easy way to steal first base," is the way Johnson puts it. "We try to roll our front shoulder back toward the catcher. A lot of balls deflect and hit you at an angle. I knew we had to have a way to motivate kids, so the kid who leads the team getting hit by pitches doesn't have to run (in practice)."
Coaches employ a pitching machine that hurls Incrediballs directly at the players during practice. They look like baseballs, but have a soft core. A player who dodges a pitch has to do pushups.
"We tell them to wear it and try to win the battle with your feet," Johnson describesd. "Don't let the pitcher move your feet. It kind of shows who's toughest. We haven't had anybody hurt."
Overall, Pinson Valley players were hit 78 times this year.
"I wanted to get on base however I could," said King, who bought into the program big time. "I just hate striking out."
Johnson said that King really earned his record 27th hit-by-pitch, because he got drilled squarely in the back by Cullman's Keagan Thompson, who throws 92 mph. King's coach gave him the supreme compliment when he said, "If I could build a player, I would build a kid with his mentality and attitude."
Leading off and practically standing on home plate, King had been hit 12 times when the first base coach suggested he should try for the state record. As King did approach the state record, his story was chronicled in the Birmingham News and he was a marked man from then on.
An umpire asked him if he was going to try to break the record on that particular day.
During the state playoffs, an opposing catcher from Parker (Birmingham, Ala.) asked him if he was the guy who was leading the state in getting hit by pitches. King said yes.
The catcher replied, "Well, you're not going to get hit in this series."
King recalled with delight, "On the very first pitch, I got hit. Later in the same game, I got hit for the 26th time to tie the state record."
Despite his notoriety in one area, King is a good all-around baseball player. He has speed and a good throwing arm. His statistics are excellent.
He batted .459 and drove in 24 runs in 42 games. He also scored 52 runs, hit seven doubles, five triples and three home runs. He stole 18 bases, walked nine times and struck out just 13 times in 109 at-bats.
Oh, and did we mention that he also led the basketball team in taking charges from his point guard position?
Basketball coach Clint Argo calls him "one of the toughest kids on the floor. You can't question his hustle. He puked our first game of the season just from working himself to death."
Similar to the baseball practices, taking charges were integrated into the basketball workouts.
King noted, "If some kid didn't take a charge in the game when he had a chance, we knew all we would do the next day was take charges in practice. I got knocked down in basketball. Those kind of hurt."
Pinson Valley baseball fans will miss Spencer King, but his 8-year old brother, Caiden, is on the way.
"He is tougher than me already," Spencer swears. "He wants to go into the Army."