Wally Backman’s long, strange journey in baseball is taking him to the Atlantic League. The former Mets second baseman and minor league manager will be on the bench managing the New Britain Bees in 2018, the club announced Thursday.
“Wally Backman is a proven winner,” general manager Brad Smith said in a press release. “His ability to instill a winning atmosphere and put an entertaining club on the field are two significant factors in bringing him aboard.”
The Bees will make their first trip to Long Island to face the Ducks on June 1-3, 2018.
Backman will return to managing after a year in the Mexican League. He was hired to manage Acereros de Monclova but was fired 42 games into the season. He then was hired as bench coach of the Pericos de Puebla.
“I’m excited to get going in New Britain,” he said in the release. “Atlantic League teams care about winning and helping players’ careers grow. Those are two things I am very passionate about.”
A member of the 1986 World Series champion Mets, Backman was a fixture in the Mets’ minor-league system from 2009-16. He managed Class A Brooklyn in 2010 and was a finalist for the position of Mets manager that ultimately went to Terry Collins. Backman managed Double-A Binghamton in 2011 and was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo in 2012.
He continued with the Mets’ new Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas in 2013, but his time with the organization came to a messy end in 2016, with a dispute erupting over the nature of the separation. Backman resigned from his role as manager, but sources told Newsday that he was dismissed, the product of simmering disputes regarding player development, a notion Backman denied.
In an interview with WFAN shortly after his resignation, Backman said he chose to leave and was not fired, departing because of disrespect he felt from being passed over for multiple openings on the major-league coaching staff.
“The respect was an issue,” Backman told WFAN. “I’ve done everything I could for the organization.”
Backman has long sought a chance at a major-league managing position. In fall 2004, he was named manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but revelations of past legal and financial problems led to his dismissal four days later.