Former New York Mets star Wally Backman was formally introduced as the newest manager of the Cyclones on Tuesday, in a press conference at KeySpan Park. "My heart never left New York," said Backman in his opening remarks "I'm excited about the opportunity for a new start with an organization I love."
The announcement marked several returns to the past for Backman, who talked about living in Brooklyn in his first year with the Mets (1980) "off of Flatbush Avenue by the Kings Plaza Mall," and about playing in the New York-Penn League as a first-round pick in 1977.
Backman thanked Mets' COO Jeff Wilpon for opening the door to his return, and Mets' baseball personnel, including GM Omar Minaya, who made the decision to hire the 50-year-old Oregon native. He also talked about his immediate and long-term goals, and about his expectations for his time in Brooklyn, as well as what he'll bring to the table at the helm of the Cyclones.
"I like to play an aggressive style of baseball, and I've always been partial to speed and defense," said the former second baseman who was known for both during his nine seasons with the Mets. "My goal is to teach the kids who'll be playing for me -- both on and off the field -- and help them to become better ballplayers and better people. There's a right way to play this game, and that's to play hard, play smart, and give it everything you've got. That's how I always played, and that's how I've always taught. My job is to prepare my players as best I can, and hopefully get them to Citi Field in a few years."
View some clips from the press conference: