Central Coast native and longtime San Luis Obispo Blues manager Chal Fanning was hired Monday to replace Thomas Eager as Cal Poly's next pitching coach.
Chal, an unfamiliar name to most, is very well-known to those inside baseball circles at Cal Poly.
"A lot of times you don't get a second chance to be back with your alma mater and work with a coach like Larry (Lee), who I have the utmost respect for," said Fanning, who also graduated from Paso Robles High in 1987 before playing for the Mustangs and at Cuesta College.
Last year, Fanning accepted a position as the pitching coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., after working as an assistant coach at Cuesta for three years.
Fanning, who spent 12 seasons as the Blues head honcho, said his return home is a "dream come true" after spending a year away from his wife.
In a brief glimpse into the future, Fanning spent one season coaching under head coach Larry Lee at Cal Poly in 2002 before leaving baseball to open a small business with his wife, Michele.
When the business closed in 2010, Fanning jumped back into baseball.
"We realized that baseball was my passion," Fanning said in a previous interview. "It's where I excelled."
Lee said he interviewed about 15 candidates when the position opened up.
"After speaking with everyone, I decided he was the best fit," Lee said. "There's familiarity, and he understands my philosophy and what Cal Poly is all about."
Lee said a few months ago he was talking to other colleges on the West Coast and selling them on Fanning's coaching abilities. Then, Eager accepted a job as the pitching coach for Cal last month, which put Fanning back in play.
"Besides being familiar with Cal Poly and me, he has a Division I background, has a good eye for recruiting and talent and he's a good teacher," Lee said.
Lee added that although they had success, the past two pitching coaches for the Mustangs (Eager and Jason Kelly) were relatively young and lacked coaching experience. That's not the case for the 47-year-old Fanning, who has eight years of experience in D1, including five years at Missouri.
"The learning curve for (the previous coaches) was a little greater," Lee said. "There will still be some teaching going on but not to the same extent."
At Missouri, Fanning coached or recruited 19 All-Big 12 selections and four professional players including Ian Kinsler.
Fanning, who was 6-4 in two seasons as a pitcher at Cal Poly (1991-92), will now be tasked with developing depleted pitching staff.
"Basically the whole team will have a new look," Lee said. "It's going to take probably a year or two to get back to where we want to be."
Fanning said he was in his office Monday getting his affairs in order and will depart on his first official recruiting trip for the school Tuesday.