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Wally Backman
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Wally Backman
Wally Backman
Ultimate Mets Database popularity ranking: 39 of 1043 players
Walter Wayne Backman
Born: September 22, 1959 at Hillsboro, Ore.
Throws: Right Bats: Both
Height: 5.09 Weight: 160

Wally Backman has been the most popular Ultimate Mets Database daily lookup 19 times, most recently on August 25, 2017.

2b ss 3b

First Mets game: September 2, 1980
Last Mets game: October 12, 1988

Share your memories of Wally Backman


Ronald Fridkis
I will always remember Wally as someone who came to beat you every time he walked on the field. He was a suburb #2 hitter behind Lenny Dykstra in the championship year of '86. The one game and at bat that will always stand in my mind was the bunt single in game #3 of the '86 Championship Series with the Astros. Wally bunted the ball and ran out of the baseline in the 9th inning. Of course he was safe and was allowed to stay on first base. One out later he scored on Dykstra's 2-run homer to right. Mets 6, Astros 5.

Tommy H
I remember Wally giving fans a hard time about getting autographs from him down at Spring Training. Always seemed to carry a "chip on his shoulder". Brushed off the fans and hastily made way to parking lot.

I remember my first trip to Shea was back in 1983 when I was 5 years old. While waiting for the gates to open my father and I sat on a curb adjacent to the player entrance. Shortly after we sat down a steaming mad Wally Backman came storming out of the building. He slammed the door to what I remember being a Jeep or Blazer, and peeled out into the parking lot. I recall my father saying "Man, I wonder what was wrong with him. Maybe he got sent down." Later we found out that he was indeed sent down to AAA Tidewater. He of course went on to be one of the scrappiest players the Mets have ever had and was a main cog in thier 1986 championship run.

Mr. Sparkle
Wally was the most arrogant guy the Mets have ever had. I loved that friggin' guy! Everyone should be like Wally. He played hard and was proud of it. He's the man!

In my opinion, Wally Backman was the GREATEST 2nd baseman of ALL time. He was the key player that led the Mets to their World Series victory in 86. Wally Backman is right next to God and Jesus Christ in my eyes! He should be in the Hall of Fame! Go Wally Backman! You are the MAN!!

Mr. Sparkle
January 3, 2001
Can anyone tell me why after playing most of 82 the Mets sent Wally back to Tidewater in 83 in favor of that lame-o Brian Giles???? Thank God they woke up an brought Wally back in 84. He had the BEST attitude I've ever seen. He was awesome!!!

Jim Alderson
March 11, 2001
I grew up in a Yankee house, but by age 10 I had already become ticked off by George. By '84 my heroes had all been sent packing (Nettles, Jackson, Dent) I renounced my Yankee faith and for a while I wandered alone in the baseball world, a fan without a team. By chance one day I turned on channel 9 just in time to see this Backman guy rock one down the right field line and take off running like Hell. The right fielder casually played the ball. Never hesitating, Wally blew through second and with the throw coming in dove flat-out headfirst into third, sending a cloud of dirt flying and hugging the bag. Safe! And me a Met fan for life. He always hustled, always got dirty, and he'll always be my favorite player. Thanks Wally.

Jim Alderson
March 11, 2001
Wally was managing an independent league team in Oregon a few years back when he was bitten on the forehead by a poisonous spider (Wolf spider?) I read that it almost killed him and would have if he hadn't been treated when he was. He's probably still got a scar on his noggin. Wally is now managing a minor league team for the White Sox. I have no doubt he'll be at the major league level soon.

March 18, 2001
He and Dykstra played some fo the best "inside baseball" ever. How many times did they (he and Dykstra) have first and third, with Keith coming up and less than two out?

June 24, 2001
I always thought it was funny how when Wally dove back to first on pick off throws, he had to pause to dump out all the dirt that collected on the inside of his belt. I guess that really isn't that funny, now that I think about it. I was like 11 or 12 when Wally played.

Danny Erickson
July 14, 2001
I read where Wally said that baseball had become a more friendly game. I hope Wally restores some blood and guts to a game which sorely lacks these kinds of players. Feed those young ballplayers, Wally.

Joe Figliola
July 25, 2001
I think Wally's wife was a pro softball player. I recall her ragging on his lack of power. After hitting his lone home run of 1986, she remarked, "Well, that's his annual home run."

I also recall Wally's strong '82 season prematurely ending when he separated his shoulder while bike riding. That paved the way for Brian Giles.

Joe S.
October 27, 2001
Growing up, Wally Backman was my favorite baseball player...period. He was a scrappy, hardnosed guy who always seemed to have a dirty uniform everytime he played. No player exerted more effort and determination on the diamond than he did. He inspired me to be that type of ballplayer myself, and I wore #6 all through my years as a secondbaseman on the teams that I played for. My teammates even nicknamed me "Wally", which stuck for many years......I am actually going to be meeting him at a Baseball card show tommorrow on Long Island, and it will be great to shake the hand of a real throwback ballplayer.....

November 29, 2001
Wally Backman is the epitome of the kind of player I love. He never relied on talent to carry him. He just fought and scrapped and played the game with intelligence. He just knew how to play the game. And he'd leave a pint of blood on the field refusing to lose.

I always thought he would make a good manager, but he has a terrible record as a manager in the minor leagues. And he needs to watch out for those brown recluse spiders. They are nasty.

January 30, 2002
to jeremy, I was at the same game, and I too was 5, it was my first met game ever. The daryl strawberry HR had me so excited it helped me survive the dallas green jeff torborg era.

February 1, 2002
I was at Game 3 of the '86 LCS--waaaaaaayy up in Section 47 of the Upper Deck. I couldn't see the scoreboard or really, anything hit to right field. Plus, I was only 8. But it was Backman's jubilant leap at second base that told me Dykstra had hit it out!

Jim Snedeker
April 26, 2002
I agree with everyone else's opinion about Wally. He was so exciting to watch. I always wondered why more players don't play the way he does. There is nothing difficult about hustling it out. And you don't have to have talent; just guts and desire. I guess the high-priced bums of today think they have so much talent that they don't need to hustle on every play the way good old Wally used to.

It reminds me of when I played soccer in high school--I wasn't a big guy, so I made up for it by slamming into the other team's players at full tilt. It was fun to get dirty and get my legs scraped and bruised. Wally seemed to have that kind of attitude, too. And I don't think most people realized how important he was to the Mets' 1986 success.

Larry Burns
June 4, 2002
Might be one of the all-time underrated Mets. His persona and demeanor defined the mid 1980s teams. Along with Dykstra, they jump started the offense. I read recently where he is managing quite successfully in the minors. His teams play hard and determined. He said something like baseball is not meant to be played in a fun way. Go about it hard. Great attitude, no wonder we had so much success with him. It's good we got Toby Nivens and Steve Gasser for him. Nightmare trade.

David Lassen
June 6, 2002
Congrats to Wally for induction to the State of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame this summer.

June 7, 2002
You have to love Wally, you don't see too many guys like him anymore. He always made something happen whether it was with the bat or on the bases as well as being a good fielder. I miss seeing this type of scrappy player. He quietly batted around .320. He was one of my favorites. He would make a great coach now.

July 17, 2002
Without question my favorite Mets player of all time, actually of all that 80's era. He was the most underrated 2nd baseman in baseball, I will never have had him platooning with any other guy while he is in my team, that kind of player I want them on the field at all time. Just look what he did for Pittsburgh after the Mets traded him. I loved to watch him play. Thanks for the memories Wally, hope to see you managing in the big leagues real soon.

August 19, 2002
I read somewhere that he wants to coach. I'll tell you this much, whoever is managing the Mets next year, I would LOVE to have Wally Backman teaching my Mets how to win. He would personally get in the face of any underachiever and spoiled millionaire that remained on the Mets for 2003. Question: How great would it be to have Ray Knight managing and Wally Backman coaching? That would be one hell of a bad-ass team, right?

August 22, 2002
I was watching one of the 10 Amazin'Games on MSG tonight, and I'm glad this 2002 Lame Duck team was on afterwards so there would be an obvious contrast. What an attitude difference-Wally was intense and a scrappy little winner. I think he would make a great coach for this team too. I think any of those 1986 Mets would be great coaches. Maybe some of that emotion and team work would rub off, I'm surprised no one has picked that up from Mookie, but he's obviously not enough alone. To watch Wally and the guys do whatever they had to do to win against Houston was as good now as it was then. Even though it already happened I was getting excited watching it again. Thanks for all of your fine play Wally, I was too young to appreciate the '69 and '73 teams, but even if they never get to win the World Series again in my lifetime, you gave me the opportunity to savor it at least once.

Doug E
September 5, 2002
Ask anybody who knows me and they'll tell you how Wally is BY FAR my favorite baseball player of all time. I grew up watching the Mets of the 80's and I was in awe of the "Wild Boys" tandem of Wally and Lenny. I'll never forget seeing that Wally had made it to Cooperstown. I walked in one of the exhibition halls at the Hall of Fame and there was his Pirates uniform (too bad it wasn't his Mets uni) from the day he went 6 for 6. As the video says, he led the Mets in dirty uniforms and he inspired me every time I went out to play. By the way, he is managing the Birmingham Barons (Michael Jordan's former team) and was chosen to manage the AA All-Star team as well as to be a coach for the Major League Futures game in Milwaukee.

October 25, 2002
Wally Backman was a fun player to watch, getting hits, stealing bases, getting in fights with teammates... he was an old school ballplayer. I'm glad to see he's managing in the minors, and I hope the Mets bring him back into the fold in some capacity some day.

My favorite memory of Backman actually has to do with baseball cards. When I was in the 5th grade, a friend of mine pulled a cookie tin filled with baseball cards from under his bed. Not being a card collector himself, he offered me the tin's contents, which had been collected by his older brothers. Before giving me the tin, he hesitated, and then plucked one card from the tin to keep: a Wally Backman rookie card.

I would like to thank my long lost childhood friend Jason for the George Brett, Alan Trammell/Paul Molitor and Andre Dawson rookie cards he unwittingly gave me.

Jim V
January 8, 2003
Wally was that kind of spark plug, fiery player that basically represented that 86 team. He laid all out on the line and gave his all, and although did not have the numbers that some may have had, was still a very consistant player.

Just the other night Wally was on WFAN here in NY doing an interview. He showed no love for Ryan Sandberg and said how he felt. I have never heard another sports player speak that way, but he kept it real, the same way he did on the field. Baseball is not the same without guys like Backman out there.

Steven Gallanter
March 27, 2003
I remember when he got sent down to Tidewater. I lived in Boston and was visiting my ancestral home in Port Washington and read about it in Newsday. I dubbed him Wally "the magic is" Backman after the ill-fated slogan of the early '80's.

I seem to recall Howard Cosell poo-pooing a comparison of Backman to Eddie Stanky. Backman and Stanky are very similiar players; short, gritty, switch-hitting second sackers who drew lots of walks and spent long apprenticeships in the minors.

Ron Hunt was also similiar to Wally.

May 16, 2003
Wally Backman brought me back to baseball.

I was a kid when the Mets made miracles in 1969, and followed them through the mid-seventies, and then just drifted out of baseball. Then one day flipping channels on the TV in 1985 I come to a shocking sight: There's a guy at the plate in a Mets uniform who looks tough. Tough!? My beloved Mets were many things over the years I had been a fan, but they never sent anyone up to the plate who looked like they were there to kick some ass. Who was this crazed little tough guy on the Mets? I watched. He took or fouled off about 20 pitches, and then got himself walked. Took a lead, looking maniacally determined. Then he stole second. Then Keith (when did the Mets get Keith Hernandez?) knocked him in. I watched the rest of the game (who are all these guys? They're great!), and by game time the next night I was back. The grit and desire and all out determination that Wally brought every day was wonderful. Obviously it's sorely missed by the team these years. I can still see that at bat in my mind, like it was an hour ago. The image of The Met Who Comes to The Plate To Win. Thank you Wally, for all the great play, but in particular, you brought me back to baseball.

October 3, 2003
You HAD to love Wally if you were a Met fan in the mid-80s. He was as important to that team as Hernandez and Gooden and the rest. I never understood why he switch hit, though. He couldn't hit worth a lick right-handed, so why not bat lefty full-time and be two steps closer to first? Maybe drag some bunts or pick up a few infield hits and some walks he wouldn't have gotten right-handed. Anything to get him in there every day.

Bob P
January 29, 2004
An item in the paper this morning said that Wally has been named manager of the Lancaster JetHawks, a Class A farm team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wally had been working in the White Sox organization from 2001- 2003.

Bob P
September 15, 2004
Further to my January 29 posting above, John Harper's column in today's NY Daily News (9/15/04) says that Wally was named minor league manager of the year by The Sporting News for his work with the Lancaster JetHawks in the Class-A California League.

The article mentions that Wally was ejected from six games this season. After one of the ejections he threw five bats and three chairs onto the field. He also was suspended twice, including a ten game suspension for bumping an umpire.

Gee, if the Mets are still so hot for Lou Piniella, sounds like Wally could be the number one runner-up!

Mr. Sparkle
September 17, 2004
Wally is my choice to replace Art Howe. Wally is the embodiment of the brash 86 Mets and he would be perfect for this team that needs an identity. Wally is one of my favorite all time Mets and he is a disciplinarian who will be perfect back on the team he was so devastated to be traded from. Lou Pinella is a great manager but he'll come with a price tag and he's not a Met. Another past manager is just a re-tread. I know the Wilpons love big names but Wally is more of a Met than Fred Wilpon and I think the Mets could use his swagger. He'd dump guys like Cliff Floyd the way Dan Reeves dumped Pepper Johnson and then ended up in the playoffs. Wally is the man and I will be dissapointed if he does not get the job especially if it goes to a Bob Brenly or a Larry Bowa. WALLY!!! WALLY!!! WALLY!!!!!

October 18, 2004
I heard Wally on the radio last night. His rep called the Mets, but he hasn't heard back. Typical Mets...ignore the wrong guy. He's dying to become the manager for the Mets, but I would bet the ranch that they don't interview him. So instead, Wally could end up managing the Diamondbacks.

He played the game with the perfect combination of smarts and toughness. Those attributes should help an organization that is short on both intelligence and guts.

October 27, 2004
Wally's finally gonna get an interview with the Mets. Hopefully he gets a real good chance, but this smells like a token interview cause the fans were yelling for him to get at least an interview. Wally has plenty of minor league managerial experience, and is a very fiery leader. Hpefully he gets the job. Doubt it though.

November 16, 2004
Wally was a guy that made the most out of limited talent, always played HARD! He struck out too much for a guy with no power that did not walk much. I met Wally on LI when he was playing for the Mets, he was a jerk!! He came off as very WIRED, cigarette in his shaking hands and bloodshot eyes, I wonder what he was up to? I still like him as a player because of the way he played with a lot of heart. I think he may have had the same lifestyle problems as Lenny, Doc, Straw and Kevin Mitchell. That was a very big problem with that team, young and out of control.

Larry Burns
November 16, 2004
I cannot believe what happened in Arizona. I was rooting for this wife beating lush to get the Mets job! I guess he could not figure out that the firey take no crap attitude which helped win the 86 title is not something that helps you in marital relationships. The only thing that makes this unbelievable is that I am SHOCKED he was NOT the Mets manager when this was uncovered----a lucky break for us.

November 18, 2004
Wally Backman was offered the D'backs job on his baseball merits. The fact that Arizona's management did not do their due diligence was their mistake, not his.

Once they had made the offer, they should have acted like men and took the blame. They should have come public with their discovery, and apologized to any group offended by Backman ( MADD, for example), and then allowed Wally to manage the team as if it was already his 2nd chance. If he didn't handle himself on a short leash, then he would seal his own fate, but to pull the rug out from under him as they did, they effectively destroyed any chance he will ever have to manage in the bigs.

We all make mistakes, but now Wally Backman is paying for his own AND the Diamondbacks front offices.

April 24, 2005
Wally coached (assistant since he didn't teach) my high school baseball team in Oregon in the late 90's. He was very passionate and road trips were great as long as you could sit close enough to him on the bus to hear his stories. Being a transplanted Mets fan, this was quite exciting for me. He went on to coach American Legion ball in the summer (of '97 I believe) and was thrown out of quite a few games. He was a bit intense for the high school level, but everyone on the team loved Wally and his son Wally Jr. who would always tag along. Wally Jr. just got drafted this year, makes me feel real old, as he was just a little kid when he was around us.

Anyway, hope Wally gets another shot at managing. He'd be great at it.

Jonathan Stern
July 8, 2005
The man wanted to win. Period. He was just as hard-charging and intense with the Pirates and the Phillies as he had been with us. In fact, I don't think they make players like Wally Backman anymore. I wish they did. With players like him, you hope he and those in his orbit do not end up either in jail or in a morgue. Beyond that, what matters most is what he does on the field. The Mets sank as a team when they got rid of guys like Backman and they are still trying to find themselves to this day.

July 10, 2005
Wally Backman is a good baseball man period. I think that Arizona commited a great mistake in letting him go by trying to be politically correct. I want a baseball manager in the field, not a priest or a politician, I don't care what mistakes he had made in his private life, after all we all make mistakes, but there's no doubt in my mind that Wally, given the chance, will be an excellent major league manager. I hope that he will get another shot at it.

jamey bumbalo
November 15, 2005
I loved Wally Backman. He was scrappy, intense, and played HARD, diving into the bases and diving after groundballs. I love a player like him whose uniform was always dirty. He got screwed by the Diamondbacks. I wish there were more players like Wally.

March 19, 2006
Wally, all Met fans know how how much you care about winning, and playing the game right. We appreciate you. We appreciate the way you played. Don't think you have no fans. Without you, no '86 championship. Thanks, Wally!

November 10, 2006
Just watched a re-run of game 7. Aside from being my all time favorite player, Wally truly was the unsung hero of that AMAZING team. He was raunchy, scrappy and worked his ass off to get to and WIN that World Series. I followed his career from day one (as a long suffering Mets fan) and his determination and drive touched me deeply. It was sad to see that his potential as a manager with the Diamondbacks was ended due to his past. Compared to current players, Wally's past is a cakewalk and should never have been an issue. I'm no longer a baseball fan because of the stupid "politics" that have now taken over what was once known as America's favorite pastime. The players of today are over paid, spoiled brats, and treated like Hollywood celebrities. I bet Wally ( who was a hottie) would have told all of them to F off if he was ever approached by Ad agencies. Hopefully, Wally will return to the big leagues as a manager someday and bring baseball back to what it once was, a game. Love you Wally!!

December 22, 2006
Wally was a no-nonsense kind of guy! He and Lenny Dykstra set the example for the '86 team with their all-out efforts every game. Their ways rubbed off on the rest of the team very well and led to a well- deserved world championship.

To show how well things fell into place for the Mets in '86, get this. Wally's only home run that year came on September 22 - his birthday! Just a perfect season from start to finish.

Jimmy Maddaloni
March 3, 2007
To all that play baseball and play 2nd base please take a moment and watch some of Wally's plays and learn to never give up on a play. Yeah, I was the kid in the backyard pretending to have that half bent bat back with the sly stance at the plate and hustle down the line and earn that hit. Hats off to you Mr. Backman!

DanMan Mets Fan 69 86
March 9, 2007
A great member of the 1986 Mets. Always a reliable guy. Him and Nails led the team with "dirty uniforms." He was one of my favorite 86 Mets, because he was a good player, and he had a great personality.

Jeff The Pug
March 30, 2008
I used to love how the great Bob Murphy would call him "Little Wally Backman," as though his first name was Little.

Was platooned for a few years, first with Kelvin Chapman (what the hell was that?!) and then with Tim Teufel. But I always thought the Mets were stronger with Little Wally in the lineup every day.

April 14, 2008
To Jeff, yes the Mets probably were a little bit better with Wally, but they couldn't play him against left handers. He was simply AWFUL against them. And as much as we love Wally, all the grit, hustle and playing dirty in the world isn't going to make up for a .170 average (I'm guessing) against lefties.

Bob P
April 15, 2008
Michael, good guess...I looked up Wally's career splits and his numbers against lefties were:

546 plate appearances (roughly equal to or a little less than one full 162-game season).

Batting average: .165 On base percentage: .259 Slugging average: .202

To put that in perspective, let's look at two of Wally's teammates. Dwight Gooden had a lifetime batting average of .196 with a slugging percentage of .262. Ron Darling's lifetime average was .146 with a slugging percentage of .203.

So having Wally Backman in the lineup against lefties was almost like having two pitchers in the batting order.

May 10, 2008
It is unfortunate that his legal problems hindered a promising baseball managing career. However, people make mistakes and deserve a second chance. It would be nice to see Wally, instead of Randolph, managing the lethargic 2008 Mets. He would get in the faces of such lackadaisical individuals such as Delgado, Castillo, Heilman, even Reyes.

May 10, 2008
OO WOW, his SLUGGING % was .202 against lefties. That has to be the worst number I've ever seen for a decent number of at bats by a regular player.

April 3, 2009
A friend of mine told me he ran into Wally Backman during a dentist appointment. He told me that his dentist described Wallys mouth as "a mess". Apparently he smoked and chewed too much gum and tobacco.

September 8, 2009
Played with Wally in Lynchburg and Jackson....78 and 79. Wally was all baseball. Intense every night. I know why he is a good manager.

Ran into him a couple years ago in Woodbridge, Va. He was managing Winston Salem. He could of blown me off, but he had the time to come over and talk. He should be managing in the big leagues. If Manny Acta can get a job, and he was absolutely horrid in Washington, Wally should get a chance

Christopher Trevor
July 20, 2010
I am sure that this will sound like a most unusual memory where Wally Backman is concerned, but it's the first one that comes to mind.

I remember back in the early 1980s there was a picture in the New York newspaper The Daily News of Wally Backman getting what was called a spring training lift. In the picture Frank Howard had lifted Wally Backman off the ground and into his huge arms. Bud Harrelson was getting a good laugh seeing Wally lifted in such a manner. The picture and the caption beneath it were referring to Wally's being one of the shortest players ever on the Mets.

I clipped that picture from the newspaper and have it till this day, it was that comical to me. If anyone has a copy of this picture and if its in good condition I would love to have a copy, as the one I have has faded through the years. Have always been a huge fan of Wally Backman, I even named a fictional character Backman in a book I wrote a few years ago.

Shickhaus Franks
April 6, 2012
You can say whatever you want about Wally from his past skirmishes with the law, the disgusting tobacco use and his not always PG-rated vocabulary but he's doing a nice gesture as manager of the Mets Triple-A team the Buffalo Bisons in 2012. Instead of wearing his customary #6; he's wearing #8 in memory of "The Kid" Gary Carter. If things break right; Wally could be the next manager in Flushing perhaps as early as this season.

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