A hardnosed gritty player Wally Backman symbolized the feistiness and tenacity of the great Met teams of the mid 80’s especially the 1986 World Championship team.
Wally Backman started his Met career as a September call up in 1980 and would spend parts of the next four seasons with the Mets. During that span he showed signs of promise but could never stick with the big club, injuries also played a factor. When not playing in New York Backman spent much of the time with the Mets Triple A affiliate the Tidewater Tides. It was with Tidewater where Backman caught the eye of manager Davey Johnson who liked his style of play. When Johnson was named the manager of the Mets in 1984, he immediately made Backman his starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. He became a fan favorite due to his hardnosed style of play, leading the league in dirty uniforms. Backman would hit .280 while also stealing 32 bases as the Mets surprised many and won 90 games for their first winning season since 1976.
In 1985 he hit .273 with 1 home run and 38 RBIs and led the team in stolen bases with 30. During the month of August, he enjoyed a 14-game hitting streak.
In 1986, Backman’s struggles against left-handed pitching forced Davey Johnson to platoon him with Tim Teufel. But he still managed to hit a career best .320 while batting in the number two spot in the lineup setting the table for the Mets big hitters, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry, as the Mets ran away and hid in the National League and won the World Series.
During the 1986 League Championship Series, he hit just 0.238 but was in the middle of some of the most pivotal moments. In game 3, with the Mets trailing 5-4 entering the 9th inning Backman led off with a bunt single. He beat out the bunt when he lunged past Astros first baseman Glenn Davis. Two batters later he scored on Len Dyktra’s walk off home run. In game 5 with the game tied in the 12rh inning, he led off with an infield single and would eventually come around to score the winning run on Gary Carter’s single. During the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, he hit .333 (6 for 18) and drove in one run.
Backman’s production began to fall off in 1987 and by 1988 and with the emergence of Gregg Jefferies and Keith Miller from the Mets minor league system he became expendable. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins following the 1988 season in exchange for three minor league prospects.
Backman hit .283 over his 9-year career with the Mets, playing in 765 games.
In 2010, Wally Backman returned to the Mets organization as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones, their single A minor league affiliate. He went on to manage their double A affiliate the Binghamton Mets. He also managed their Triple A affiliate in both Buffalo and Las Vegas from 2012-2016.
While with the Mets Backman wore number 28 in 1980 and number 6 from 1981-1988.
Wally Backman also played for the following teams:
Minnesota Twins – 1989
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1990
Philadelphia Phillies – 1991,1992
Seattle Mariners – 1993
Click Here for Mets Memorabilia