Grady returns to Mesa

Paul Grady was shaken up well before a 4.4 earthquake hit near his home in Yorba Linda late Tuesday night.

Earlier that evening, Grady got the news he'd been waiting for since he graduated from Costa Mesa High 24 years ago. He's coming back to his alma mater.

Grady said he has been hired to coach the Mustangs' baseball team and to teach English at the school. He takes over for Jason Smith, who resigned after one season because Smith planned to relocate his family to Texas.

"It feels good and it's exciting," Grady said of his return to Costa Mesa. "I look forward to directing and building the program."

Phil D'Agostino, the school's principal, said he tapped Grady, 42, as the next coach because of his coaching and teaching abilities, as well as his connection to the program.

Grady, a 1988 Costa Mesa graduate, played catcher for then-coach Kirk Bauermeister. He later became one of Bauermeister's assistants for one year in the late 1990s. He also was an assistant under then-coach Doug Deats for one season in the early 2000s.

Since 2003, Grady had been at Downey High, where he taught English and was an assistant coach for the baseball program. The program has enjoyed success in recent years, winning three league titles in the past four seasons.

Three years ago, Grady said Downey claimed the San Gabriel League title, the school's first league championship in 22 years.

While Downey shared the San Gabriel Valley League title last season, Costa Mesa was nowhere in contention in the Orange Coast League. The Mustangs finished in last place in league with a 2-13 record.

Grady said he's aware of Costa Mesa's struggles the past two seasons, in which it has missed the CIF Southern Section playoffs each time. The team under Smith went 4-20.

The Mustangs' lack of success didn't stop Grady from applying for the job when it opened up after Smith stepped down.

"I was looking to be a head coach of a program again," said Grady, whose first heading coaching stint lasted one season at Bolsa Grande High in 2001. "I was surprised it was available because I knew they had hired a coach a year before. This was too good of a coaching opportunity to pass up. I get to work at my alma mater, something I've been working toward since I did my student teaching at Costa Mesa [10 years ago]."

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