Although he has been adamant that his focus is on winning in Central Islip this summer, new Ducks manager Wally Backman believes that a reunion with the Mets organization is still in the cards . . . someday, at least.
“I think it’s possible,” Backman said Tuesday on WFAN’s “Joe and Evan.” show “I’ve had conversations with Jeff [Wilpon] and I know that they’ve talked a little bit. We just have to wait and see how that turns out.”
Backman, who played for the Mets from 1980-1988 and was named the sixth manager in the Ducks’ 20-year history last week, coached in the Mets’ system from 2010-16, managing at all three levels.
Backman’s time in the organization ended in 2016, resulting in a public dispute regarding the nature of his departure. Before that, Backman said he believed he was being groomed to take over for then-manager Terry Collins.
“I was very close to Terry Collins,” Backman said. “I thought we worked well together and I was the guy in waiting. Basically, it didn’t happen. [Former GM] Sandy [Alderson] and I, for some reason, didn’t see eye to eye and I really don’t know why. I did everything he asked me to do. I knew Terry was coming to the end of his contract and I believe Terry wanted me to be the guy as well.”
It wasn’t the first time Backman’s path to a major-league managerial job derailed. After the 2004 season, he was introduced as the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he was fired four days later after revelations of past arrests and financial troubles came to light.
Despite the disappointments Backman still believes he will find his way to the major leagues. “That’s why I still do what I do,” Backman said. “I love the game, I love to manage the game, and I love to run the game. I believe that the hardest thing to do is being able to put your players in position to succeed and I think I can do that very well . . . Maybe someday it’ll happen.”
Right now though, Backman’s focus is on the Atlantic League, widely believed to be baseball’s top independent league. Backman said he will be discussing the 2019 Ducks roster with president and GM Michael Pfaff in the next few days, and some changes to the general construction of it might be in the offing.
“We’re going to make quite a few changes because you want to keep those guys hungry,” Backman said.