George Greer is not the least bit Italian.
However, he grew up in Westerly where there was always what the 1964 All-State baseball player called “plenty of great Italian restaurants in town.”
After enjoying a highly-successful college baseball career at the University of Connecticut, where he starred under legendary Huskies coach Larry Panciera – who just so happened to be a Westerly native – Greer was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.
But his Minor League career was short, “real short” he’ll tell you, because he wanted to get into coaching.
For much of his highly-successful career, the one-time Bulldog pitcher/first baseman/slugger was among the nation’s top college baseball coaches and was known for producing championships and All-Americans at Wake Forrest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
He spent time in the New York Mets organization as a manager with such farm clubs as the Coney Island Mets but opted to return to the St. Louis Cardinals where he now serves as an offensive strategist for all the franchise’s minor league clubs.
Last weekend, Greer was back in Rhode Island to attend his Westerly High Class of 1964’s 55th reunion.
He and his wife, Dr. Becky Greer, who is a retired Superintendent of Schools in Radford, Va., made their weekend headquarters at the Hampton Inn & Suites on Post Road in Warwick.
So, as he has done through his many return trips to Rhode Island – and Cape Cod where he is a member of that area’s famed summer baseball league Hall of Fame – Greer was looking for some good, ole Italian food.
Hampton officials suggested Sophia’s Tuscan Grille at 1729 Warwick Avenue and the self-proclaimed chef – who says he makes excellent lasagna – issued a five-star rating for owner/chef Chris Palios’ food after enjoying two selections from the “Dinner for Two” menu.
“It’s obvious these are fresh native clams,” Greer said after enjoying clams with linguine in a white wine sauce, while his wife loved the roasted risotto with vegetables. “I’ll be back here soon, I hope.”