LAS VEGAS: The Las Vegas 51s professional baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), Triple-A affiliate of the 2015 National League Champion 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 2016 season. Backman will also begin his fourth season as manager of Las Vegas and is the 22nd manager in the history of the Las Vegas franchise (1983 - 2015, 33 seasons).
The 51s coaching staff was also announced as Frank Viola will return for his third season as pitching coach and Jack Voigt will return for his second season as hitting coach. Deb Iwanow will begin her first season as Athletic Trainer for Triple-A Las Vegas and Jon Cioffi will return for his second season as Strength Coach with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Backman, 56, has guided Triple-A Las Vegas to three straight winning seasons and two consecutive Pacific Southern Division Championships in 2013 & 2014 (back-to-back 81-63 records, .563). In 2015, Las Vegas compiled an overall record of 77-67 (.535) and finished in second place in the Southern Division, one game behind the El Paso Chihuahuas, Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres (78-66, .542). The Mets advanced to the World Series for the first time in 15 years (2000). A total of 11 players on the World Series 25-man roster played with Triple-A Las Vegas over the past three seasons.
Las Vegas recorded back-to-back 80-win seasons in 2013 & 2014 (fifth overall) for the first time in its 33-year franchise history. Backman's three-year record with the 51s is 239-193 (.553); two playoff appearances and his 239 victories ranks second all-time in franchise history behind Jerry Royster's 323 (1996-98, 2005-06).
In 2013, he led the 51s to the second-best record in the PCL with an 81-63 (.563) mark and guided Las Vegas to the PCL Playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons (since 2002).
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 2016, he will enter his fifth season as manager on the Triple-A level and his seventh season with the Mets organization since his playing days.
"I'm excited to return to Las Vegas for my fourth season," 51s Manager Wally Backman said. "I enjoy working with everyone in the 51s front office and look forward to another successful season in the Pacific Coast League. We have the potential to field another exciting team for the fans to watch and enjoy."
He has compiled a 13-year minor league managerial record of 840-757 (.526) in the Chicago White Sox, Arizona and New York Mets organizations from 2001-04 & 2010-15 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
2014 Las Vegas (AAA)** Pacific Coast 81 63 .563 1st
2015 Las Vegas (AAA) Pacific Coast 77 67 .535 2nd
TOTALS (13 years) 840 757 .526
*2004 Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year **PCL 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)
2013-15 Wally Backman (239-193, .553) - 2014 PCL Manager of the Year
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, 3 seasons (2013-15), 239-193 (.553), 2 playoff appearances
ALL-TIME RECORD: 2,314-2,396 (.491)
The Las Vegas Stars/51s have captured the PCL Championship twice (1986 & 1988) and appeared in the playoffs 10 times (19-29 record, .396).
Voigt will enter his 11th overall season in the Mets organization and his second season as the hitting instructor for Triple-A Las Vegas. He served four seasons as the organization's outfield and baserunning coordinator (2011-14). Voigt also served as hitting coach for Triple-A Buffalo of the International League in 2010 and served in the same role for Single-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League in 2009. He served as hitting coach for Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League for two seasons (2012-13) and the team captured the championship and advanced to the Caribbean World Series. He joined the Mets organization in 2006 as a major league Advance Scout.
He worked with the Washington Nationals in 2005 on Manager Frank Robinson's coaching staff. In 2004, he was a minor league roving baserunning and bunting coach in the Atlanta organization and served as baserunning and outfield coordinator for Baltimore in 2003. He also managed Baltimore's Single-A Frederick affiliate of the Carolina League in 2002 and was the hitting coach for Frederick in 2001. Voigt began his coaching career in 2000 as a player/coach with Triple-A Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League.
Voigt was selected by Baltimore in the ninth round of the 1987 Amateur Draft. He played six seasons in the Major Leagues with Baltimore (1993-95), Texas (1995-96), Milwaukee (1997) and Oakland (1998). He appeared in 294 career games and batted .235 (138-for-588) with 20 home runs and 83 RBI.
He attended Louisiana State University for three years (1985-87) and played in the 1987 College World Series and was named to the All-CWS Team. In the tournament, he hit the game-winning home run in the seventh inning to beat Arkansas.
Viola enters his third season as the pitching coach at Triple-A Las Vegas and his sixth season overall with the Mets organization. In 2014, the 51s pitching staff established a franchise record with 1,172 strikeouts.
He spent 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.
He was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, eight-man Class, on June 29, 2015.
Iwanow (pronounced EYE-vuh-no) has been in the Mets organization as Athletic Trainer for 10 seasons (2006-15) and has spent the past two seasons with Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League (2014-15). She spent the previous three seasons (2011-13) as the trainer for Single-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League. Deb also served as trainer for Single-A Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League from 2009-10 and rookie-level Kingsport of the Appalachian League for three seasons (2006-08).
She graduated from Ithaca College in 1999 with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sports Science. She also received a Master's in Exercise and Sports Science with a concentration in Sports Psychology from Ithaca College in 2003. Iwanow is a certified athletic trainer by the National Athletic Trainers Association and is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist by the NSCA.
Cioffi begins his second season with the New York Mets organization as the strength coach for Triple-A Las Vegas. He previously worked in the Minnesota Twins organization from 2010-13 and served as strength & conditioning coach for Triple-A Rochester of the International League (2013). In 2014, he worked in the military at Fort Bragg, NC. He received a B.S. in Exercise Science from Arizona State University.
The 51s will open their 34th season in the Silver State on Thursday, April 7 against the defending PCL & Triple-A Champions, Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, at Cashman Field at 7:05 p.m.
2016 season tickets and mini-plan packages (11, 22, 36-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.