Speier’s steady glove, bat, and all-around smart play kept him in the majors for 19 seasons, where he evolved from a twenty-one year-old rookie into an All-Star shortstop in one season, and later settled into a role as a much-traveled and respected reserve infielder.
Speier debuted with the Giants in 1971, starting at shortstop for the NL West champions after only one season in the minors, and in 1972 Speier hit .269 with 15 HR and 71 RBI. He made the All-Star team three straight years, showing surprising power at the plate, and in 1975 he led NL shortstops with a .982 fielding percentage. His average slipped to .226 in 1976, and in 1977 he was traded to Montreal for shortstop Tim Foli.
Speier was the Expos’ starting shortstop through 1982, when he hit .257 in 156 games, but his range at shortstop was shrinking, and he began to experiment at third base as well. Speier was traded to the Cardinals for Mike Ramsey in July 1984 and sold to the Twins in August, before signing with the Cubs as a free agent. After two seasons in Chicago, he returned to his native San Francisco in 1987, where his teammates voted him the club’s annual Willie Mac award for inspirational play.
Filling in primarily at second and third base, Speier’s 11 HR in 1987 was his best output since 1973, and in May he hit two grand slams in a span of five days. Speier hit for the cycle twice, and shares the Expos record for RBI in a game (eight) with Andre Dawson and Tim Wallach. His son, Justin Speier, a right-handed hurler, made his major-league debut with the Cubs in 1998.