Perhaps there was more to the Mets’ suspicious decison to boot Wally Backman from their managerial beauty pageant last week than we first realized. The New York Times’ Jakc Curry wrote yesterday about several unpleasant incidents in Backman’s past.
While Backman’s passionate personality on the field was one of the reasons the Diamondbacks wanted him, it has apparently contributed to some embarrassment off the field. In the last four years, Backman has been arrested after a domestic dispute with his wife, Sandy, and for a drunken driving incident; and he has filed for bankruptcy.
Backman was found guilty of driving under the influence on Jan. 3, 2001, in Kennewick, Wash. He spent one day in jail, was fined $560 and was ordered to complete a course on alcohol counseling.
Nine months later, Backman was charged with five misdemeanors after an incident with his wife at their home in Prineville, Ore. Backman was convicted of one charge (harassment), was imprisoned for a day, was put on probation for 12 months, was prohibited from drinking alcohol and was told to enter an anger-control treatment program. He was also fined more than $1,000.
In February 2003, Backman filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code, which allows debtors to free themselves of most of their debts.
In the wake of Curry’s report, the Diamondbacks have said that they’re sticking with Backman. The following is from ESPN.com :
“I’ve made a few mistakes in my life, and I think everybody has,” Backman told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “It’s a matter of whether you learn from your mistakes and move on. That’s what I’m doing.”
The Diamondbacks were unaware of his problems until they surfaced in a New York Times story on Tuesday. Backman met with Diamondbacks owners and other management personnel about the issues and was told he still had the job, he said.
“It was part of the past that I thought was the past, to tell you the honest truth,” Backman said. “They probably should have asked me about it, and I probably should have brought it up.”
General manager Joe Garagiola Jr. referred questions to managing partner Ken Kendrick, who did not return a telephone message. Kendrick told The Arizona Republic that the Diamondbacks had asked former employers about Backman but did not do a financial or criminal background check.