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 2014 season. Backman will also begin his second season as manager of Las Vegas and is the 22nd manager in the history of the Las Vegas franchise (1983 - 2013, 31 seasons).
The 51s coaching staff was also announced as Frank Viola will begin his first season as pitching coach and George Greer will return for his third season (second season with the 51s) as hitting coach. Joe Golia will also return for his fourth season as Athletic Trainer for the Triple-A Mets (second season with the 51s) and Dustin Clarke will return for his fourth season as Strength Coach in the Mets organization and his first season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Backman, 54, in his inaugural season at Triple-A Las Vegas, led the 51s to the second-best record in the 16-team PCL with an 81-63 (.562) mark and were the 2013 Pacific Southern Division Champions. The Las Vegas franchise recorded 80 or more wins in a season for the fourth time in its history and he also led the 51s to the PCL Playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons (since 2002). Las Vegas lost to Salt Lake three-games-to-one in the Conference Championship Series.
In 2012, he guided Buffalo of the International League to a 67-76 (.469) record in his first season on the Triple-A level. In 2014, he will enter his third season as manager on the Triple-A level and his fifth season with the Mets organization since his playing days.
"I'm excited to return to Las Vegas for my second season," 51s Manager Wally Backman said. "I'm also excited about the fact that we will have a solid team to start the season and our pitching has the potential to be better than last season (2013). Our players did a good job getting a grip on it quickly in regards to adjusting to the PCL and knowing what the main goal is while playing in Las Vegas."
He has compiled a 11-year minor league managerial record of 682-627 (.521) in the Chicago White Sox, Arizona and New York Mets organizations from 2001-04 & 2010-13 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
YEAR CLUB LEAGUE W L Pct. FINISH
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
2013 Las Vegas (AAA) Pacific Coast 81 63 .563 1st
TOTALS (11 years) 682 627 .521
*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)
2013 Wally Backman (81-63, .563)
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
New York Mets, 1 season (2013), 81-63 (.563), 1 playoff appearance
ALL-TIME RECORD: 2,156-2,266 (.488)
The Las Vegas Stars/51s have captured the PCL Championship twice (1986 & 1988) and appeared in the playoffs nine times (18-26 record, .409).
Greer will enter his ninth season overall in the Mets organization, his third season as the hitting instructor for the Mets Triple-A affiliate (2012 with Triple-A Buffalo & 2013 in Las Vegas) and his second 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).
Viola enters his first season as the pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas and enters his fourth season overall with the Mets organization.
He spent the last two seasons (2012-13) as the pitching coach at Single-A Savannah of the South Atlantic League. He served in the same position with Single-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League in 2011. He was the manager of the Leesburgh Lightning in the Florida Collegiate Summer League from 2008-10, leading the squad to the FCSL championship in 2009 and to the championship game in 2010. He also coached at Lake Highland Prep in Florida from 1998-2007.
He enjoyed an outstanding 15-year Major League career with Minnesota (1982-89), New York Mets (1989-91), Boston (1992-94), Cincinnati (1995) and Toronto (1996). The left-hander appeared in 421 career games and posted a 176-150 record with a 3.73 ERA. He struck out 1,844 batters in 2,836.1 innings pitched. The three-time All-Star went 20-12 with a 2.67 ERA in 249.2 innings pitched for the Mets in 1990. He was a member of the 1987 World Series Champion Minnesota Twins and the World Series MVP that same season (2-1, 3.72 ERA vs. St. Louis). He won the Cy Young Award in 1988 with a career-best 24-7 record and a 2.64 ERA in 255.1 innings pitched in 35 games started. He also posted 18 wins in a season twice for the Twins in 1984 (18-12) and 1985 (18-14).
Frank, nicknamed "Sweet Music," was born in East Meadow, N.Y., and attended St. John's University.
Golia has been in the Mets organization as Athletic Trainer for nine seasons (2005-13). He served as Athletic Trainer for Triple-A Buffalo for two seasons (2011-12) and with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013. He 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.
Clarke has been in the Mets organization for three seasons. He spent the last two seasons as the Strength Coach for Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League (2012-13).
He is a Certified Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist NSCA and certified Sports Performance Coach USA Weightlifting.
He previously worked with the University of Michigan football strength and conditioning, Lafayette College and Drexel University strength and conditioning programs.
Clarke received his Masters in Exercise and Science from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from the same institution
The 51s open their 32nd season in the Silver State on Thursday, April 3 against the Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, at 7:05 p.m. at Cashman Field.
2014 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.