NEW YORK (WFAN) — Wally Backman said Tuesday he resigned from the Mets because he did not feel respected and that reports of him being defiant as a minor league manager included blatant lies.
While Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Monday night that Backman “decided to move on,” some reports said the former Met was actually fired.
Backman told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Tuesday he left on his own, although he said he would have agreed to continue as a minor league skipper but was never offered a position.
Backman took exception to reports that he refused to play Michael Conforto against left-handed pitchers or bat Brandon Nimmo in the leadoff spot. He cited statistics that Conforto was with Triple-A Las Vegas for 33 games and started 31, going 20-for-41 (.488) with three home runs against lefties. He also said Nimmo batted first or second in 84 out of 97 games.
“Whoever put that out there, the source within the system, they lied,” Backman said. “And that’s the part that pisses me off because I did nothing but try to help these guys.”
Backman has managed in the Mets’ farm system for the past seven years, including the last five on the Triple-A level with Buffalo and Las Vegas. He said he didn’t feel as though he had a future with the organization.
“When you work for an organization, do everything, you want to be respected for what you do,” Backman said. “I just felt, for my time being there, that the respect wasn’t there.”
He said the Mets did not give him the credit he felt he deserved for letting them know that first baseman James Loney had a “24-hour out” in his minor league contract earlier this season or that he suggested the team sign catcher Rene Rivera. Backman also said he passed along information from a two-hour conversation he had with Jose Reyes after the troubled infielder had been sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque and it was clear he would be waived soon after.
“The respect was an issue,” Backman said. “I’ve done everything I could to help the organization. I don’t want to take up and be a sideshow when they’re in a fight for the playoffs because every one of those guys that’s in the big leagues right now are guys that passed through me. And I’m pulling for every one of those guys no matter where I am.”
When asked about his relationship with Alderson, Backman hesitated before saying: “I thought that he respected me as a baseball person. I guess that I wasn’t the prototypical guy that he liked.”
Backman played 14 years in the majors for the Mets, Twins, Pirates, Phillies and Mariners. He was the starting second baseman on the Mets’ 1986 world championship team.
Following the 2004 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks hired Backman as manager, but fired him days later after a New York Times report revealed he had been arrested on DUI and domestic violence charges and had filed for bankruptcy, which the organization said it had not known about.