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Wally Backman
Second baseman
Born: September 22, 1959 (1959-09-22) (age 50)
Hillsboro, Oregon
Batted: Switch Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 2, 1980 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
May 14, 1993 for the Seattle Mariners
Career statistics
Batting average     .275
Hits     893
Runs batted in     240
Career highlights and awards

Walter Wayne Backman (born September 22, 1959 in Hillsboro, Oregon) is a former Major League Baseball second baseman. He is best known for his time with the New York Mets from 1980-1988 and was a member of their 1986 World Series-winning team. Backman was recently named the manager for the Mets' Brooklyn Cyclones minor league franchise of the New York-Penn League for the 2010 season.[1]


First round pick

Backman was the Mets' first round pick in the 1977 Major League Baseball Draft (sixteenth overall). He was assigned to the New York-Penn League's Little Falls Mets upon signing, and batted .325 with six home runs in his first professional season. After batting .293 for the triple A Tidewater Tides in 1980, Backman received a September call up to the Mets. Making his major league debut starting at second base against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 2, Backman got a single in his first at-bat, driving in Claudell Washington for his first major league run batted in. [2]

After battling for three seasons to earn a starting job, Backman finally emerged as the Mets' starting second baseman in 1984. He batted .280, and finished second to Mookie Wilson (46) with 32 stolen bases.


Prior to the start of the 1986 season, general manager Frank Cashen brought in Tim Teufel, a right-handed hitting infielder from the Minnesota Twins for Billy Beane, Joe Klink and Bill Latham. He and Backman formed a platoon at second base, and along with Wilson and Lenny Dykstra, provided a "spark" at the top of the Mets' line up, and set the table for the heavy hitters who batted behind them.

For his own part, Backman scored 67 runs, stole 13 bases and batted over .300 (.320) for the first time in his career for the team that won 108 games and took the National League East by 21.5 games. He batted .333 in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.


Backman and Teufel were still platooning at second base in 1988 when the Mets won their division for the second time during Backman's tenure with the team. Backman batted .303 for the division winners, and the Mets won 100 games that season, taking the NL East by fifteen games over the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, the heavily favored Mets lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 National League Championship Series. Backman played respectably in the division series (.273 avg., 2 runs, 2 RBIs), however, following the season, the Mets sent him and Mike Santiago to the Minnesota Twins for Jeff Bumgarner, Steve Gasser and Toby Nivens. None of whom ever emerged as a major leaguer.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Backman under performed with the Twins, batting only .231 with one home run and 33 runs scored while driving in only 26 in 1989. After only one season in Minnesota, Backman signed as a free agent with the Mets' division rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates. With slick fielder Jose Lind already at second base for the Pirates, Backman received most of his playing time backing up Jeff King at third.

The Pirates opened the 1990 against the Mets at Shea Stadium. In front of his former home crowd, Backman went two for five with a single and triple and scored two runs in the Pirates' 12-3 victory over the Mets.[3] Against the San Diego Padres on April 27, Backman accomplished the rare feat of six hits in a nine inning game.[4] For the season, Backman batted .292 and scored 62 runs for a Pirates team that went 95-67, and took the division by four games over the Mets.


Backman spent 1991 and 1992 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He signed with yet another National League East team, the Atlanta Braves, for 1993, but failed to make the team out of Spring training. He caught on with the Seattle Mariners, but was released 38 games into the season with a .138 batting average with only two runs scored in 31 plate appearances.

Seasons Games AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO HBP Avg. OBP
14 1102 3245 482 893 138 19 10 240 117 52 371 480 5 .275 .349

Backman had a career .980 fielding percentage at second base.


After retiring as a player, Backman was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Backman led the 2002 Birmingham Barons (Chicago White Sox double A Southern League affiliate) to a 79–61 record. In 2004, he led the Lancaster Jethawks, the Arizona Diamondbacks High A team, to an 86–54 record and was named Sporting News "Minor League Manager of the Year".

On November 1, 2004, Backman was promoted to manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks' major league squad.[5] However, only a day later, reports surfaced that Backman had serious legal and financial problems. He had also been arrested in 1999 for DUI in Washington as documented on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. A year later, he was arrested in connection with an altercation in his home in Prineville, Oregon. In addition, Backman declared bankruptcy to avoid paying over 20 creditors, including the IRS.[6] The Diamondbacks initially stood by him,[7] but fired him on November 5 before ever managing a game.[8]

Backman began his managerial comeback with the South Georgia Peanuts of the independent South Coast League. His return to managing was documented by the TV series Playing for Peanuts. The Peanuts won their league with a 59–28 record.

In December 2007, Backman became manager of the Joliet JackHammers.[9] With the team in sixth place in the Northern League with a 24–42 record, he was fired on July 30, 2009.[10] In October 2009, Backman's name circulated as a likely candidate for the Mets' double A managerial job with the Binghamton Mets, however, the Mets decided instead to promote Teufel from the St. Lucie Mets, and Backman was given the St. Lucie job.[11] Two weeks later, the Mets changed their minds, and Backman was handed the reins to the Brooklyn Cyclones instead.[12]

Preceded by
Al Pedrique
Arizona Diamondbacks managers
Succeeded by
Bob Melvin


  1. ^ "Backman to Manage Brooklyn Cyclones". 2009-11-16. 
  2. ^ "Los Angeles Dodgers 6, New York Mets 5". 1980-09-02. 
  3. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates 12, New York Mets 3". 1990-04-09. 
  4. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates 9, San Diego Padres 4". 1990-04-27. 
  5. ^ "Backman takes D-Backs' helm". Steve Gilbert / Retrieved 2004-11-02. 
  6. ^ "Backman's past won't affect job with D'backs". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  7. ^ "D-Backs stand behind Backman". Steve Gilbert / Retrieved 2004-11-03. 
  8. ^ "On second thought ... Backman's past ordeals too much for D'backs; Melvin named manager". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  9. ^ JackHammers ink new Manager at
  10. ^ JackHammers change managers at
  11. ^ "Mets to make decision on coaches". Marty Noble / Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  12. ^ "Backman tapped to manage Cyclones: Fiery second baseman energized Mets teams of the 1980s". Marty Noble / Retrieved 2009-11-13. 


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