LAS VEGAS: The Las Vegas 51s professional baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, announced today, in conjunction with the Mets Media Relations Department, that Wally Backman will return as manager for the Mets Triple-A affiliate for the 2013 season. Backman will begin his first season as manager of Las Vegas and was named the 22nd manager in the history of the Las Vegas franchise (1983 - 2012, 30 seasons).
The 51s coaching staff was also announced as Randy St. Claire will begin his first season as pitching coach and George Greer will return for his second season as hitting coach. Joe Golia will also return for his third season as Athletic Trainer for the Triple-A Mets (first season with the 51s) and Ronald Kenyatta will return for his 12th season as Strength Coach for the Triple-A Mets (first season with the 51s).
Backman, 53, guided Triple-A Buffalo of the International League to a 67-76 (.469) record in his inaugural Triple-A season in 2012. He will enter his second season as manager on the Triple-A level and his fourth season with the Mets organization since his playing days.
"We're excited to have such a skilled and experienced staff leading the 51s in our inaugural season, as we expect to have some of the most talented players in our player development system in Las Vegas," Mets Vice President, Player Development & Amateur Scouting Paul DePodesta said.
He has compiled a 10-year minor league managerial record of 601-564 (.516) in the Chicago White Sox, Arizona and New York Mets organizations from 2001-04 & 2010-12 and three seasons in the Independent League (2007-09). In 2011, he led Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League to a 65-76 (.461) mark and, in 2010, managed Single-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League to a 51-24 record (.680) and the Cyclones captured the McNamara Division title.
Backman managed the Joliet JackHammers of the Independent Northern League for two seasons (2008 & 2009). He returned to baseball in 2007 as skipper of the South Georgia Peanuts of the Independent South Coast League and led the team to the league title and was featured on a TV documentary called "Playing for Peanuts." He was named the Arizona Diamondbacks manager on November 1, 2004 but was relieved of his duties on November 5, 2004. He led the Lancaster Jethawks (Single-A) of the California League to a 86-54 record during the 2004 campaign and was named Minor League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News. He began his managerial career in 2001 with the Chicago White Sox organization at the helm of Single-A Winston-Salem of the Carolina League. He spent two seasons with Double-A Birmingham (2002-03) of the Southern League and led the team to the 2002 League Championship.
He began his professional career in 1977 when selected by the New York Mets in the first round (16th overall pick) of the Major League Baseball Draft. He played 14 seasons in the Major Leagues as an infielder (2B, SS, 3B) with the New York Mets (1980-88), Minnesota (1989), Pittsburgh (1990), Philadelphia (1991-92) and Seattle (1993). Backman appeared in 1,102 games and batted .275 (893-for-3,245) with 138 doubles, 19 triples, 10 home runs, 240 RBI and 117 stolen bases in 169 attempts. He was a member of the 1986 Mets World Series championship team and hit a career-high .320 (124-for-387) during the season. He recorded back-to-back seasons of 30 stolen bases or more in 1984 & 1985 (32 stolen bases in 41 attempts & 30 SB's in 42 attempts). In 1990, as a member of Pittsburgh, he collected six hits in a game on April 27 vs. San Diego.
Backman graduated from Aloha High School in Hillsboro, Oregon and was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
WALLY BACKMAN'S MANAGERIAL RECORD
2001, Winston-Salem (A),Carolina, 54-86, .386, 4th
2002, Birmingham (AA), Southern, 79-61, .564, 1st
2003, Birmingham (AA), Southern, 73-64, .533, 2nd
2004, *Lancaster (A), California, 86-54, .614, 1st
2007, South Georgia, Independent, 59-28, .678, 1st
2008, Joliet, Independent, 43-53, .448, ---,
2009, Joliet, Independent, 24-42, .364, ---,
2010, Brooklyn (A), New York-Penn, 51-24, .680, 1st
2011, Binghamton (AA), Eastern, 65-76, .461, 5th
2012, Buffalo (AAA), International, 67-76, .469, 6th
TOTALS (10 years), 601-564, .516
*2004 Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year
Las Vegas Franchise All-Time Managers List:
1983, Harry Dunlop (83-60, .580)
1984-85, Bob Cluck (136-144, .486)
1986, Larry Bowa (80-62, .563, PCL Champions)
1987, Jack Krol (69-73, .486)
1988-89, Steve Smith (148-135, .523, '88 PCL Champions)
1990, Pat Kelly (58-86, .403)
1991-92, Jim Riggleman (139-145, .489)
1993-94, Russ Nixon (114-172, .399)
1995, Tim Flannery (61-83, .424)
1996-98, 2005-06, Jerry Royster (323-387, .455)
1999, Mike Ramsey (67-75, .472)
2000, Duane Espy (30-20, .600)
2000, Tony Franklin (43-50, .462)
2001, Rick Sofield (68-76, .472)
2002, Brad Mills (85-59, .590, PCL Manager of the Year)
2003, John Shoemaker (76-66, .535)
2004, Terry Kennedy (67-76, .469)
2007-08, Lorenzo Bundy (141-146, .491)
2009, Mike Basso (71-73, .493)
2010, Dan Rohn (66-78, .458)
2011-12, Marty Brown (150-137, .523)
Las Vegas Triple-A Affiliation History:
San Diego Padres, 18 seasons (1983-2000), 1,227-1,329 (.480), 7 playoff appearances
Los Angeles Dodgers, 8 seasons (2001-08), 561-586 (.489), 1 playoff appearance
Toronto Blue Jays, 4 seasons (2009-2012), 287-288 (.499), 0 playoff appearances
ALL-TIME RECORD: 2,075-2,203 (.485)
The Las Vegas Stars/51s have captured the PCL Championship twice (1986 & 1988) and appeared in the playoffs eight times (17-23 record, .425).
Greer will enter his eighth season overall in the Mets organization, his second season as the hitting instructor for the Mets Triple-A affiliate (2012 with Triple-A Buffalo) and his first season with the 51s. He previously served as the hitting instructor for Single-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League for three seasons (2009-11). He also served in the same capacity with Rookie-level Kingsport of the Appalachian League in 2007 and Single-A Savannah of the South Atlantic League in 2008. He joined the Mets organization in 2006 as the manager of the Single-A Brookyln Cyclones of the New York-Penn League.
He compiled a 714-504-8 record (.582) in 23 seasons as an NCAA Division I Head Coach. Greer spent 17 seasons (1988-2004) as the Head Baseball Coach for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the Atlantic Coast Conference and compiled a career record of 608-382-4 (.612) which earned him the winningest coach in school history. He produced 29 All-Americans during his tenure at Wake Forest. He also was the Head Baseball Coach at Davidson College for six years (1981-87) and compiled three straight 20-win seasons, including a then-record 25 wins in his final year.
Greer, who was raised in Westerly, RI, was a two-time All-American for the University of Connecticut (1967 & 1968).
St. Claire enters his first season as the pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas and also enters his inaugural season with the Mets organization.
He spent three seasons as the pitching coach for the Florida/Miami Marlins (2010-2012) and joined the Marlins after six-plus seasons as pitching coach for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.
St. Claire began his coaching career in 1996 with the Milwaukee Brewers' Single-A team of the California League. He also spent the 1998 season as the Pitching Coach for Montreal's Single-A team, Cape Fear. He was a coach in the Expos organization for five years before agreeing to be Toronto's Triple-A Pitching Coach in 2003 and later became Montreal's Major League Pitching Coach.
He played parts of nine seasons in the Major Leagues with Montreal (1984-88), Cincinnati (1988), Minnesota (1989), Atlanta (1991-92) and Toronto (1994). The right-hander posted a 12-6 career record with a 4.14 ERA in 162 relief outings and allowed 252 hits and struck out 160 batters in 252.0 innings pitched. He compiled a 70-84 record in 623 career minor league games, including 48 starts, eight complete games, two shutouts and 142 saves.
St. Claire signed as a free agent with Montreal on September 9, 1978 and made his Major League debut with the Expos on September 11, 1984 vs. Pittsburgh. He earned his first big league victory on June 3, 1986 vs. San Francisco. He pitched one inning in Game #5 of the 1991 World Series with Atlanta against Minnesota. He was traded to Cincinnati (from Montreal) with catcher Jeff Reed and outfielder Herm Winningham in exchange for outfielder Tracy Jones and right-handed pitcher Pat Pacillo on July 13, 1998.
St. Claire's, father, the late Ebba St. Claire, was a catcher with the New York Giants from 1951-54.
Golia has been in the Mets organization as Athletic Trainer for eight seasons (2005-12). He served as Athletic Trainer for Triple-A Buffalo for the past two seasons (2011-12) and spent the previous five seasons with Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League (2006-10). He began his first season in the Mets organization in 2005 with Single-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League. Golia graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College, majoring in Sports Medicine before going on to obtain his M.E.D. in Exercise Science & Physical Education from Citadel.
Kenyatta has been in the Mets organization as Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coordinator and Triple-A Strength Coach for 11 seasons (2002-12).
He is certified as a Strength and Conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Level One United States weightlifting club coach with US Weightlifting Association.
He served as the Strength and Conditioning Consultant for the baseball team at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1997-99 and interned in the Strength and Conditioning department at Georgia Tech from 1999-2000. He was a Strength and Conditioning intern with the Georgia State basketball team under legendary head coach Lefty Driesell in 2001.
Kenyatta graduated from Radford University (VA) with a B.S. in Physical Education and a minor in Psychology and received an M.S. in Exercise Science from Carolina University at Pennsylvania in 2003.
The 51s open their 31st season in the Silver State on Thursday, April 4 against division-rival, the Sacramento River Cats, Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A's, at Sacramento, Calif. Las Vegas' home opener is against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, on Friday, April 12 at 7:05 p.m. at Cashman Field.
Season tickets and mini-plan packages (10 & 10-Games You Pick'em, 20, 33-game plans) are available by calling the 51s office at (702) 798-7825. Individual game tickets for the 72-game home schedule will go on sale in March.
Official licensed 51s team merchandise is available on the "Team Shop" section of the website.