Sports briefs 11/2/04

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Baseball

* Wally Backman was hired Monday as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, taking over a team coming off one of the worst seasons in major league history.

A former New York Mets second baseman with a reputation for intensity, Backman, 45, was selected minor league manager of the year this season by The Sporting News after leading Class A Lancaster to the best record in the California League. It was his first year in the Diamondbacks' organization.

Backman played 14 seasons in the major leagues, the first nine with the Mets. He had a .275 career average with 240 RBIs and 117 stolen bases.

Backman replaces Al Pedrique, who took over on an interim basis when Bob Brenly was fired in early July. Pedrique was one of eight candidates interviewed, a group that included former Diamondback Mark Grace.

* Houston Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker resigned Monday, less than two weeks after the team came within one win of reaching the World Series for the first time.

"It has been an incredible nine years, and when I look back I will take with me a lifetime of memories," said Hunsicker, who had the job for nine years.

Tim Purpura, Hunsicker's assistant and the team's director of player development, will succeed him immediately.

During Hunsicker's tenure, the Astros won four NL Central titles and finished second three times, including this past season.

Hunsicker, 53, said he will remain with the Astros as an adviser through next season.

* Tim Raines, the No. 5 base stealer in major league history, was hired Monday by the Chicago White Sox as their first base and baserunning coach.

Raines, a seven-time All-Star who once played with the White Sox, replaces Rafael Santana, who will remain with the organization as a minor-league infield instructor.

During a 23-year major league career, Raines batted .294 and stole 808 bases in 954 attempts, and the 84.7 percent is the third-best all-time.

Basketball

* Backman replaces Al Pedrique, who took over on an interim basis when Bob Brenly was fired in early July. Pedrique was one of eight candidates interviewed, a group that included former Diamondback Mark Grace.

Colleges

* Washington coach Keith Gilbertson will step down at the end of the season, ending a difficult two years as Rick Neuheisel's replacement.

The Huskies lost 31-6 at Oregon on Saturday, dropping to 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the Pac-10. It's the worst season in 35 years for a school that shared the 1991 national title.

The 56-year-old Gilbertson, a Washington native, is 7-13 in his second season at Washington.

* Starting Kansas quarterback Adam Barmann likely is out for the season after hurting his shoulder Saturday against Iowa State, coach Mark Mangino said Monday.

Football

* Robert Porcher retired Monday, ending a 13-year career as Detroit's career leader in sacks.

Porcher, who has 95 1/2 sacks, already had announced this would be his last season, but he ended his career early after being inactive for Detroit's first seven games.

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