As parents, we endeavor to do the best we can for our kids.
When it comes to our son Nate, I can comfortably say that in at least one regard, I succeeded.
Additional proof, as if I needed any, came when I was watching the rampaging St. Louis Cardinals recently. There in the dugout, dispensing the kind of expertise it takes a lifetime to accumulate, was the man who taught Nate Collins how to hit a baseball.
He might have taught your son or daughter as well. He’s one of us, a man who has been living in and around Winston-Salem since he was hired to coach baseball at Wake in 1988.
His name is George Greer, and I’m proud to call him a friend. We’ve kept up since his run at Wake ended (after 608 victories and three ACC titles) in 2004. I’d bump into George around town from time to time and he and his wife Becky – a woman accomplished enough in her own field to serve as superintendent of the Radford City Public Schools in Virginia – have even dropped by our Open Mics down at Muddy Creek Cafe a handful of times.
Once they were accompanied by Allan Dykstra, the former All-ACC slugger who was living with George and Becky upon his return to the area to complete his degree at Wake.
And as much as I like George Greer, I wish his Cardinals would cool off a bit. They keep crowding my Cubs in the NL Central.
The Cardinals began rampaging in mid-July after they replaced manager Mike Matheny with Mike Shildt, a lifer in the organization who beyond being a regular guy everyone seems to like also had the good sense to promote Greer to the majors to serve, along with Mark Budaska, as co-batting coach.
So at the tender age of 72, only 50 years after he first joined the organization as a 17th-round draft choice out of Connecticut, George Greer is in the majors. What a wonderful story, told so well here by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Nate was good enough to help a Little League team win games, but he never made his mark in baseball. Just might have had something to do with genes.
He instead took up the drums and is living his life in music. No regrets there.
And there are certainly no regrets on my part concerning who I took him to for instruction on how to hit a baseball.
In my time at the Winston-Salem Journal, I covered thousands of minor league and college games and got to know countless coaches and managers in the game.
I feel comfortable in saying that no one I ever met knows more about the fine art of hitting a baseball than George Greer. Apparently that high opinion is shared by folks in the highest realm of the game. I’m so happy for my friend, and can’t wait for him to come back around this fall so we can talk about this latest chapter in his fascinating life.
Here’s hoping I won’t have to wait until after the World Series. As a Cubs’ fans, I just can’t make myself pull for the Cardinals.