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Backman talks

Prineville resident met with ESPN at Stanford Inn on Thursday

by: TIM STUMM/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Flanked by his son, Wally, and his wife, Sandi, Wally Backman, center, walks to his car after conducting an interview with ESPN Thursday morning.

Conducting his first media interview since being fired from the Arizona Diamondbacks November 5, Prineville resident Wally Backman met with ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez at the Stafford Inn Thursday morning.
   The segment appeared on the cable sports network later that afternoon.
   "I feel better," Backman said after the interview. "It's issues you don't want to talk about, but it's nice I am able to get the facts out."
   Backman was hired as manager of the Diamondbacks Nov. 1 and almost immediately following, reports began to surface of his troubling past.
   Managing partner Ken Kendrick initially stood by his choice but, facing mounting pressure, relieved Backman of his duties four days later.
   During the ESPN interview, Backman elaborated on mistakes he's made, what he plans on doing next and how this ordeal has affected his family.
   "To fall off this mountain is a big mountain to fall off," Backman told Gomez. "But, I am not a quitter. I never have been."
   Backman led Arizona's Class A affiliate Lancaster Jethawks to the Southern Division Crown last season and was named the Sporting News minor league manager of the year for his efforts.
   As of now, he is unemployed.
   "What I don't want to happen is that this affects my career," he said. "I've made mistakes in my life."
   Following the firing, Backman said his phone was flooded with messages of support. The former major leaguer said he received calls from past teammates, past players he coached, and from friends and family.
   He added that the people of Prineville have been more than helpful.
   "I've gotten a lot of support from people in town," he said. "And that's been one of the biggest things for me and my family."
   Backman and his family have maintained a home in Prineville for several years.
   He and his wife Sandi have seven children. Like father, like son, his eldest, Wally Jr., was drafted this spring by the Texas Rangers.
   Backman Sr. spent 14 years in the majors and was part of the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets.
   It is widely believed the fiery attitude he displayed as a player helped make him so successful as a manager.
   It is an intensity that will, for the meantime, be kept under wraps.
   "I'm here, I'll be with my family," he said, expounding on what he plans to do next. "We'll be enjoying this time as much as we can."