George Greer, Cotuit Kettleers Field Manager, 1979-1987/Chatham A’s ’66-’67
Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Famer George Greer, the legendary helmsman of the prestigious Wake Forest University Demon Deacons baseball program, won his 700th Division 1 collegiate baseball game Sunday, Feb. 29, helping solidify his amazing track record in the game.
Now in his 17th season as Wake Forest head coach, Greer was inducted in 2002 in the Cape League Hall of Fame. He is a member of four Halls of Fame total, the architect of three Atlantic Coast Championship teams, the coach of 29 All-Americans in 16 years at Wake Forest and the fifth-winningest coach in ACC history.
In recent seasons, Greer has guided the Demon Deacons to levels of national prominence unseen at Wake Forest since winning the 1955 national championship.
In 2002, Wake Forest was ranked as high as number two nationally and tied a school record with 47 wins. The team earned a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the fifth straight year in the tournament for the Deacons. For all those accomplishments, Greer was named ACC Coach of the Year.
By capturing the 2001 ACC Championship, Greer and Wake Forest earned its third league title in four years. Among active coaches in the ACC, only Greer and Florida State’s Mike Martin have won three rings.
The year 2001 was a banner year for the program but especially for Greer. During the course of the season, he picked up career win number 600 and also his 500th win as the Wake Forest skipper.
As a team in 2001, the Deacons won 44 games en route to an ACC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season.
In 2000, the Demon Deacons won 40 games for the third year in a row. In 1999, Greer’s team won its second straight ACC championship and won 47 games. In 1998, Wake Forest captured the school’s first ACC title in 21 years and earned an invitation to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 1977.
Although his teams have enjoyed a high level of success recently, success is certainly not new to Greer who enters his 17th season at Wake Forest in 2003.
Greer owns the distinction of being the winningest coach in school history. He owns a 16-year record of 591-349-4 and ranks fifth all-time in the Atlantic Coast Conference in wins. He is three wins shy of picking up his 700th career victory on the Division I level and moving into fourth place on the ACC wins chart. Including his six-year stay at Davidson, Greer’s overall mark stands at 697-471-8 in 22 seasons.
With nine more wins, Greer will become only the fourth coach in ACC history to record 600 wins while a coach in the prestigious conference. Only Bill Wilhelm of Clemson, Mike Roberts of North Carolina and Mike Martin of Florida State have accomplished the feat.
“It’s a tribute to the continued commitment the school has made to baseball that has given me the tools to put together winning teams,” says Greer of his success with the Deacons. “We have had outstanding groups of student-athletes and assistant coaches who have all contributed to our success, so I don’t think of this as a personal accomplishment as much as it is a Wake Forest accomplishment.”
His consistency for winning wherever he has been is one of Greer’s biggest assets. That has never been more evident than at Wake Forest, where he has won at least 30 games in 14 of his 17 seasons, including 40-plus wins in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
In 1998, Greer guided his talented squad to a 43-23 overall record and a 13-10 league mark, tying the school record for most ACC wins in a season. The Demon Deacons boasted the ACC’s leading batter in Jon Palmieri as well as the conference’s winningest pitcher and ACC Tournament MVP in John Hendricks.
In 1999, Greer led the Demon Deacons to a school-record 16 ACC wins and a second place finish in the ACC, the school’s best regular-season league finish since 1979. He molded the Wake Forest lineup into one of the most potent in the ACC, as the Deacs hit .329 as a team, scored a school-record 8.7 runs per game, won a school-record 47 games and earned a top-10 national ranking. Three of his players – Palmieri, Mike MacDougal and Danny Borrell – earned All-American honors and MacDougal became the second first-round draft pick in school history when he was selected 25th by the Kansas City Royals. Andrew Riepe was named the ACC Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
In 2000, Wake Forest posted a 41-20-1 record and a fourth-place finish in the ACC. The Deacons were backed by the strong arms of first-team All-ACC selection Scott Siemon, freshman All-American Ben Clayton and Borrell, who was drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees. As a junior, Cory Sullivan was named second team All-American.
In 2001, the Deacons captured its third ACC title in a span of four years behind seven All-ACC selections, including Sullivan who was a first team All-American and David Bush, a third-team All-American closer.
Four players off the team were drafted in the top ten rounds of the June 2001 draft.
In 2002, Greer was selected by his peers as the ACC Coach of the Year. He led Wake Forest to a 47-13-1 record, a second place finish in the ACC and coached four players to All-America status including Adam Bourassa, Dave Bush, Ryan Johnson and Kyle Sleeth.
Last spring, Sleeth was again named an All-American and was joined by ACC Player of the Year Jamie D’Antona. Sleeth was selected with the third overall pick by Detroit. D’Antona was taken in the second round by Arizona. Adam Bourassa, Ryan Johnson and Adam Hanson were taken in the 6th, 13th and 42nd rounds, respectively.
There’s no denying that Greer has made the Demon Deacons a perennial threat in one of America’s toughest baseball conferences. But that’s not surprising to those who watched him grow up in Rhode Island. He was a star at the University of Connecticut, where he earned All-America honors two times, and gained further acclaim as captain of the USA’s gold-medal winning Pan Am Games team in 1967.
His penchant for winning has rubbed off on his players whether at Cotuit of the Cape Cod League – where he won three All-Cape championships and one regular season title – Connecticut – Avery Point, winning nine titles in nine years, Davidson, or Wake Forest.
Before coming to WFU, Greer was head coach at Davidson and succeeded in getting that program to a competitive level. By the time he left in the summer of 1987, Greer had three straight 20-win seasons under his belt, including a then-record 25 wins his final year.
Greer broke into coaching in 1972 when he started the program at Connecticut-Avery Point from scratch. His ability to judge talent was immediately evidenced as he posted an impressive 155-52-3 record in eight seasons, highlighted by a 31-6 record in 1981.
While many great moments have occurred during his collegiate coaching career, Greer is still remembered for the outstanding teams he managed in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
As field manager of the Cotuit Kettleers for nine summers, Greer was named Coach of the Year twice, including his first season in 1979 (also in 1983). Greer captured three Cape League Championship titles and finished his CCBL managerial career with a 213-143-21 record.
Major league stars such as Ron Darling, Greg Vaughn, Will Clark, John Franco and Terry Steinbach have all benefited from Greer’s instruction and over 30 former Deacons have realized their dream of being drafted by a major league team since 1988.
Greer was inducted into the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. He was presented by long time Chatham A’s friend and field manager John Schiffner. His class of inductees included Ron Darling, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek and Buck Showalter, among others.
In addition, Greer has produced 29 All-Americans in his tenure at Wake Forest. Billy Masse (1988), Warren Sawkiw (1989), John Hendricks (1998), Jon Palmieri (1999), Mike MacDougal (1999), Cory Sullivan (2001), Dave Bush (2002) and Jamie D’Antona (2003) were first-team choices, while Chris Kowilcik (1992), Bret Wagner (1994), Palmieri (1998), Danny Borrell (1999), Sullivan (2000), Adam Bourassa (2002), Ryan Johnson (2002) and Kyle Sleeth (2002) earned second-team honors. Bush (2001) and Sleeth (2003) were third-team All-Americans.
D’Antona was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Freshman of the Year in 2001 and the ACC Player of the Year in 2003. Dave Lardieri earned Academic All-America honors in 1997. Pat Malloy (1996), Palmieri (1996), MacDougal (1997), Borrell (1998), Corey Slavik (1998), Ben Clayton (2000), D’Antona (2001), Sleeth (2001), Adam Hanson (2001), Steve LeFaivre (2001), Josh Hansen (2001), Ben Ingold (2002), Daniel Davidson (2002) and Tim Morley (2002) were Freshman All-Americans.
All-Americans are something Greer knows a lot about. That is the status he reached during his playing career at Connecticut in the late 1960s. As a sophomore, he led the Yankee Conference with a .403 average and was an All-American as a junior and senior.
During the summer, he starred in the Cape Cod League leading Chatham to the finals three straight years (1965-67). Part of his 1967 season with Chatham was interrupted when he was chosen to captain Team USA in the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
Greer showed why he was chosen to lead the team, batting .379 during the tournament (17-for-45) and delivering the U.S. a gold medal with a bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to beat Cuba in the best-of-three championship. He was unanimously elected to represent the American team on the medal stand.
After graduating from UConn in 1968, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Greer went on to post impressive statistics in a five-year minor league career, which concluded with him being player-coach, trainer and bus driver, at Single-A Modesto (CA) in 1973.
Greer owns the distinction of being a member of four Halls of Fame. He is a 1999 inductee into the George Whitfield Hall of Fame, a member of the inaugural class of inductees in the Westerly (R.I.) High School Hall of Fame in 2000, the inaugural class of inductees into the University of Connecticut-Avery Point Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2002. In 2002, Greer received the Winston-Salem/Bill Slack Community Service Award.
Greer and his wife, Becky, reside in Winston-Salem. They have three children — Andy (31), Chezley (27) and Chip (22).
Photo and portions of this story are © 2004, Wake Forest University.