Problems surface on Backman

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

PHOENIX -- Arizona Diamondbacks manager Wally Backman will keep his new job despite revelations of two arrests and financial problems in his past.

"I've made a few mistakes in my life, and I think everybody has," Backman told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "It's a matter of whether you learn from your mistakes and move on. That's what I'm doing."

The Diamondbacks were unaware of his problems until they surfaced in a New York Times story on Tuesday. Backman met with Diamondbacks owners and other management personnel about the issues and was told he still had the job, he said.

"It was part of the past that I thought was the past, to tell you the honest truth," Backman said. "They probably should have asked me about it, and I probably should have brought it up."

General manager Joe Garagiola Jr. referred questions to managing partner Ken Kendrick, who did not return a telephone message. Kendrick told The Arizona Republic that the Diamondbacks had asked former employers about Backman but did not do a financial or criminal background check.

Backman, Sporting News minor league manager of the year last season, was given a two-year contract to manage the Diamondbacks on Monday. Kendrick cited Backman's fiery attitude as one of the attributes that led to the hiring.

Backman acknowledged that he was arrested in 2001 after an altercation with a female family friend at his home in Prineville, Ore. He said he agreed to plead guilty to fourth-degree assault. He was placed on 12 months' probation, ordered to undergo an anger management evaluation and donated $1,000 to the local Boys and Girls Club.

Backman was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence in Kennewick, Wash., in 1999, when he was manager of the Tri-City franchise of the independent Western League. He said he fought the charge for two years before pleading guilty.

He also has had financial problems, and filed for bankruptcy several years ago. Backman said many of the financial problems, including several tax liens he said he has paid, were caused by dealings of his then-wife that he was unaware of.

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