Former Ranger makes coaching debut
Greer brings old school mentality to Texas Collegiate League
COLLEYVILLE, Texas -- Rusty Greer does it all as head coach of the Colleyville LoneStars of the Texas Collegiate League (TCL). Spraying down the infield, showing up a few hours before games to do early work with his players and promoting the TCL are among Greer's everyday activities outside of filling out the daily lineup card."He brings an instant respect factor," team president Stacey Hollinger said. "He's been very helpful in promoting the league. There's a major respect factor he commands when he steps on the field." Greer signed to coach the LoneStars in mid-December, and recently made his coaching debut on June 6. The TCL started four years ago and has become recognized as one of the top summer college baseball programs in the country. The nine-team, wooden bat league has a 48-game regular season with more than 200 collegiate players from more than 85 schools. "They don't play day-in and day-out in college, so it's a mental grind on them," Greer said. "In that, you want to play the game hard, regardless if you're tired or not. It comes down to whose got the most mental makeup at that point in time and that's how you win." Greer brought an old school, hard-nosed mentality to the LoneStars. He has two clear-cut goals: 1) To get the players individual help they can use when they return to school, and 2) To win. To accomplish the first, Greer shows up early before games to help his players with hitting and fielding drills. He also constantly instructs them during games. "I look into the dugout every play," LoneStars and Cal State-Fullerton outfielder Kyle Hardman said. "He's talking to me, telling me what to do. I'm learning the small parts of the game from him. "Getting a chance to play for a former big leaguer, especially a guy like Rusty Greer, is kind of special. He's been hands on. If we ever needed anything, he shows up early and helps us." Greer credits his teaching ability to his former instructors, who helped him make the climb from the University of Montevallo (Ala.) through the Minors and into the Major Leagues. "I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel," Greer said. "I might help with some foot work, or with glove work that might improve their game. They're responding well to everything I'm doing and making good efforts." It was his "lay it all on the line" demeanor that made Greer a fan favorite for nine years in Texas, from 1994-2002. That's why Hollinger was ecstatic when Greer returned an e-mail saying he was "definitely" interested in coaching the LoneStars. "Rusty has a great combination because he played college ball and knows what it takes to get to the pros," Hollinger said. "He likes coaching college-aged players because they're more absorbent. He does a great job instilling big league concepts. He's instilled a 'Let's go out and win every game' attitude." It was the same attitude Greer brought to the ballpark during the Rangers' three division title seasons in the late 1990s. Greer knew only one way to play. "He knows how to play one way -- the American League way," Hardman joked. "But, it's been awesome, a great experience. We all enjoy playing for him. He doesn't treat us like we're nothing, he treats us with respect, like he expects to be treated." It is easy to see why Greer is having fun coaching the college-aged players. They have the willingness to listen and learn from one of the Ranger greats. "I would like to get into the collegiate game because you can teach baseball and implement your own style and play," Greer said. "At the big-league level, those guys can play and there's not a whole lot of teaching that's involved so I enjoy teaching. But, that's not to say if someone offered me a big league job I wouldn't take it, but at this point in time I'm going to try to pursue some college endeavors." Other former Rangers involved with the TCL include: Chairman Gerald Haddock, who served as General Counsel of the Rangers for the George W. Bush/Rusty Rose ownership group from 1989-98, co-owner and president of the McKinney Marshals Mike Henneman, who pitched for the Rangers in 1996, co-owner of the Denton Outlaws, Todd Van Poppel, who played for the Rangers in 1998 and 2002-03. To follow the LoneStars throughout the summer, check out the TCL Web site, TexasCollegiateLeague.com.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.