NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Wally Backman was passed over for Terry Collins as the next manager of the New York Mets during the off-season, but the fiery Double-A manager still has a firm believer in Darryl Strawberry.
“Wally will be the next manager of the Mets, in my opinion,” Strawberry said before Tuesday night’s Baseball Assistance Team dinner at Midtown’s Marriot Marquis. “I don’t have much to say, but I thought he would’ve been the right choice for them.
“Not taking anything away from Terry. He’s a great man, and I think he’ll probably do a great job turning these guys around. But I think Wally’s in the future, as far as the manager, and I think he’ll be a super manager.”
Backman was among four finalists last fall to replace Jerry Manuel as Mets manager.
Collins was hired over Backman, Chip Hale and Bob Melvin.
Strawberry explained why he supported his ex-teammate during New York’s managerial search.
“Because he played on the ’86 Mets. Were you around when ’86 happened? He was one of our fiery players, a gutty type of guy who did everything,” Strawberry explained. “When you see guys playing the game the right way, you know they understand the game.”
Strawberry echoed the thoughts of many Mets fans who were let down when Backman didn’t get the top job.
“When you’re talking about the fan base, I think that would’ve been a big lift for the fans. And I think a lot of fans were disappointed he didn’t get the position.”
Backman, no stranger to controversy, was promoted in January to replace former Mets teammate Tim Teufel as manager of New York’s Double-A Binghamton farm team.
Last season, Backman hinted that he could do a better job than Manuel.
“Are there things that maybe I could do better? Probably,” he said. “I’m prepared to go to a major league team… There’s no question in my mind I’m ready for it.”
Arizona hired Backman as manager in November 2004, then was fired four days later after The New York Times reported he had been arrested twice and had financial problems. He managed South Georgia of the independent South Coast League in 2007 and Joliet of the Northern League in 2008.
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