Backman to manage independent team

Backman to manage independent team

ALBANY, Ga. -- Wally Backman has another chance to manage.

Two years after he was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks just four days following his hiring, Backman was announced Wednesday as manager of the South Georgia Peanuts in the independent South Coast League.

Backman was hired by Arizona on Nov. 1, 2004, then was dismissed after reports he had been arrested twice and struggled with financial problems. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail on Dec. 2, 2004, for violating his probation following a driving under the influence charge in 2000.

In the 2004 sentencing in Kennewick, Wash., Benton County District Judge Holly Hollenbeck extended Backman's probation through January 2008 and ordered him to drink no alcohol during that time.

In 2001, he was arrested after a fight at his home involving his wife and one of her friends in Prineville, Ore.

Though the six-team South Coast League is a long way from the Major Leagues, Backman said he is grateful for the opportunity.

"I'm very excited to be back in baseball," he said. "I can't even begin to tell you how much I missed the game."

The South Georgia team will not have a Major League affiliation.

Backman had a 14-year Major League career as an infielder, including nine seasons with the New York Mets. He also played with Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Seattle.

The Albany team begins play in the 2007.

"We're thrilled to have Wally on board with the Peanuts," Albany general manager Keith Michlig said. "He's a name most people familiar with major league baseball will recognize. More importantly, he has been recognized for his ability to work with young players at our level. His expertise will only help solidify our efforts to develop players and help them take that step towards the Major Leagues."