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Ex-Met Wally Backman arrested in domestic dispute, police say

Wally Backman, a former Mets second baseman and current Long Island Ducks manager, referred back to the Ducks' previously released statement when asked Friday evening to comment on his arrest Friday morning concerning what law enforcement officials said was a domestic dispute with a woman at her home in Riverhead. Credit: Newsday / Jordan Lauterbach

Ex-Mets second baseman and current Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman was arrested Friday after a domestic dispute with a woman he had been dating at her home in Riverhead, law enforcement officials said.

Riverhead police responded to a report of a domestic dispute at 7:42 a.m. at the home of Amanda Byrnes, who says she had been dating the former major leaguer for the past three months.

Backman, 59, of Deer Park, allegedly pushed Byrnes against a wall, grabbed and twisted her left hand and took her cellphone, preventing her from calling 911, according to charging documents. 

He was taken to the Riverhead Police department for processing and arrested on charges of second-degree harassment and fourth-degree criminal mischief, according to Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller.

Backman was arraigned in Riverhead court and released on his own recognizance. Judge Lori Hulse also ordered Backman to stay away from his accuser. He is due back in court Sept. 22.

Stephen Civardi, Backman's Freeport-based defense attorney, called the allegations "baseless" and said his client expects to be exonerated.

"Any well known sports figure is vulnerable to false accusations," Civardi said. "And my client adamantly and completely denies the allegations. We can show them to be baseless and completely without merit. When the facts are heard we are fully confident that he will be completely exonerated."

In an interview with News 12 Long Island, Byrnes said Backman woke up Friday morning "verbally abusive," screaming and cursing at her. As the incident escalated, Backman pushed her against a wall, twisted her arm and hand and "put me in fear for my life," she said.

Byrnes said she was eventually able to text her mother and a co-worker, who called 911 on her behalf.

"I am scared for my life," said Byrnes, who said the incident left her with a sprained wrist, a cut to her hand and two sprained fingers. "I am also afraid of the damage he can do can toward other people. And these types of people need help ... Domestic violence is not acceptable at all"

In a tweet Friday, Long Island Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said Backman would remain the team's manager.

"We are aware of the alleged incident involving Wally Backman," Pfaff wrote. "We have spoken with Wally and understand he categorically denies all charges against him. Wally will continue as manager and neither he nor the Long Island Ducks will comment further on this pending legal matter."

Backman was in uniform for Friday night’s Ducks game at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip but declined to comment, citing the "pending legal matter." 

Backman played for the Mets from 1980 to 1988 and was a key member of the 1986 World Series championship team. He coached in the Mets’ system from 2010 to 2016 and was named the sixth manager in the Ducks’ history in late November 2018.

In total, he played 14 years in the majors, including for the Twins, Pirates, Phillies and Mariners, finishing with a .275 batting average, 893 career hits and 482 runs scored.

After the 2004 season, he was introduced as the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. But he was fired four days later after news of two previous arrests and financial difficulties came to light.

In 2001, he was charged with misdemeanor harassment in an incident involving his wife, Sandi, and her friend, Sherrie Rhoden, in Princeville, Oregon. Authorities at the time said Backman suffered a broken arm in the domestic scuffle when Rhoden struck him with one of his own used bats from the '86 World Series.

A year earlier, Backman was charged with DUI. In 2003, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

With John Valenti and Jordan Lauterbach 

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