Paul Svagdis, A93, AG96, Is Tufts’ Next Baseball Coach

The former Jumbo standout player, with a .625 career win percentage as head coach over 25 seasons, comes back to campus
A large group of baseball players gather around their coach, who is talking to them. Former standout player Paul Svagdis with .625 career win percentage as head coach over 25 seasons comes back to Tufts to coach the baseball team
Coach Paul Svagdis with his Azusa Pacific players. “What an amazing opportunity and privilege it is to come back to Tufts University,” Svagdis said.
October 14, 2021

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Paul Svagdis, A93, AG96, who has been head baseball coach at Azusa Pacific University since 2002, will return to his alma mater as the new head coach of the Jumbo program.

Svagdis was recruited to play at Tufts by John Casey, A80, the legendary Jumbo baseball leader whom he will now replace. Casey retired at the beginning of the 2021-22 year after leading the Jumbos to 765 wins and 10 regional and conference titles.

A two-year team captain of the Jumbos, Svagdis played first base for the team from 1990 to 1993. He hit .402 in his Jumbo career, and his 17 home runs and 113 runs batted in are also on the program’s all-time top 10 lists.

At Azusa Pacific, from 2002 to 2021 he amassed 606 wins for the most in program history. In his 20 seasons he produced 16 All-Americans, 14 Academic All-Americans and eight conference Players of the Year. His 2007 team finished 51-10 overall and 33-5 in the Golden State Athletic Conference, both the top win totals in program history.

After the Azusa Pacific athletics program transitioned from NAIA to NCAA Division II, he led the Cougars to three straight 40-plus win seasons from 2017 to 2019.

“What an amazing opportunity and privilege it is to come back to Tufts University,” Svagdis said. “I am honored and humbled to follow my college coach, mentor, and friend John Casey in leading the baseball program. The history of success on and off the field and tradition to leave the program better than you found it are core values I believe in and hope to continue to develop in the current and future Jumbo baseball players.”

“I have had the privilege to coach Paul and watch Coach Svagdis become one of the most respected coaches in the country,” said Casey. “It is great to see a fellow Jumbo continue the Tufts baseball tradition. He will take Tufts baseball to even greater heights.”

A Winning Coach

At Tufts, Svagdis was the Clarence “Pop” Houston Award winner as best male athlete in 1993. He played in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League during the summers of 1991 and 1992.

A native of Falmouth, Massachusetts, Svagdis also played football for the Jumbos and started his coaching career right after graduation as a baseball and football assistant coach in 1993-96. After receiving a master’s in education at Tufts in 1996, he was hired as head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

During six years leading the Sagehens baseball team, Svagdis coached three All-Americans, 12 All-Conference players and a Conference Player of the Year. His 2002 team finished 35-5 and had a perfect 18-0 season in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. That spring, the Sagehens won the conference championship and made an NCAA regional appearance for the first time in the program’s 47-year history.

In 25 years of head coaching overall, Svagdis has a record of 718-429 for a .625 career win percentage. His teams have won eight regular-season conference titles and he’s earned seven Conference Coach of the Year awards.

He has guided his teams to six NCAA Regionals and five NAIA Regionals, including the 2007 and 2008 teams that advanced to the NAIA World Series. Svagdis has coached over 35 players drafted by Major League Baseball teams, including two-time All-Star Stephen Vogt.

“Coach Paul Svagdis is an amazing man, husband, father, and leader, and a phenomenal baseball mind,” said Vogt. “Along with building two programs in the baseball hotbed of southern California into powerhouses, he has helped numerous student-athletes succeed beyond the collegiate level in many different fields. Tufts is getting one of the best.”

“I’m so excited for the Jumbo baseball family and for our entire department to welcome Paul Svagdis back to Tufts as our head baseball coach,” said John Morris, director of athletics. “A highly-accomplished coach, Paul’s passion for academic excellence, community service, and winning championships is exceeded only by his zeal for mentoring student-athletes, developing their character, and preparing them to be leaders in life after college. We look forward to watching him make his own mark on this storied program.”

As an alumnus of the program, he said he is looking forward to continuing the strong tradition of alumni engagement with the program that Casey established.

“I am very excited to work with one of the best and strongest groups of alumni in college baseball,” Svadis said. “I have watched them from afar come alongside the program over the years and look forward to continuing to build and develop those strong ties among the alumni and current players.”

“I have had the pleasure to know him over the last 25 years and share a dugout with him for multiple seasons,” said Jamie Pinzino, A97, now the East Tennessee State University pitching coach, who was assistant coach under Svagdis at Pomona. “On the field he is a proven winner, recruiter and developer of talent. Off the field, he is a loyal and genuine human being who can build lasting relationships.”

Director of Athletic Communications Paul Sweeney can be reached at paul.sweeney@tufts.edu.