12/11/2007 3:06 PM -
Story courtesy of the Joliet JackHammers
“We are thrilled to have Wally onboard with us,” said General Manager Kelly Sufka, who has been with the JackHammers since their inaugural season. “He’s certainly a name people will be familiar with, and he is extremely determined to bring a winner to Joliet.”
Backman was selected 16th overall by the New York Mets in the first round of the 1977 draft. After making his way through the Mets minor league system as a second baseman, he was eventually called up in September of 1980 and hit .323 in 93 at-bats. As a member of the World Championship team in 1986, he and teammate Len Dykstra became known as the "Partners in Grime" due to their blue-collar style of play.
“Wally coaches the way he played,” said Sufka. “Our fans will come to appreciate the type of winning baseball he demands.”
Following the 1988 season, Backman was traded to the Minnesota Twins. In 1990, he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates and helped them claim the National League East title batting .290 in 104 games. He then spent two years with the Philadelphia Phillies before finishing his playing career with the Seattle Mariners in 1993.
Backman’s first managerial job came in the independent Northeast League with the Catskill Cougars in 1997. After that, he managed two other Western League teams in Bend and Tri-City, and won the Western League Championship with Tri-City in 1999.
Backman then went on to manage four seasons of affiliated minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. He spent 2001 in Winston-Salem (A) and 2002 through 2003 with Birmingham (AA), where he won the Southern League title in 2002. In 2004, he led Lancaster (A) to the California League Championship series and was named “Minor League Manager of the Year” by The Sporting News.
Most recently, Backman managed the South Georgia Peanuts in the inaugural season of the independent South Coast League. He was named “Manager of the Year” after posting a 59-28 record and leading the Peanuts to the South Coast League Championship.
“I am very excited to be part of the Joliet JackHammers organization, and I look forward to getting things going in a winning direction,” said Backman.