A Riverhead woman is suing ex-Met and Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman and the Long Island Ducks, claiming sexual abuse and harassment, the woman’s attorney announced last night.
Backman, 60, of Deer Park, was charged by Riverhead Town Police on Aug. 30 with harassment and criminal mischief after a domestic incident at his girlfriend’s home.
Amanda Byrnes said Backman pushed her against a wall that morning and twisted her hand and took her cell phone to prevent her from calling 911.
Backman pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges at his Aug. 30 arraignment before Riverhead Town Justice Lori Hulse, who issued an order of protection requiring him to stay away from Byrnes. He is next due back in town court on Oct. 29.
Byrnes filed suit against Backman and the Ducks in State Supreme Court on Sept. 19, her attorney, John Ray of Miller Place announced last night in a press release.
“The suit alleges that Wally Backman seriously injured Amanda Byrnes after a night of his debauched drinking, in a fit of jealousy,” Ray said.
Backman’s “raging battery” of Byrnes displaced the woman’s pacemaker, Ray said in a phone interview yesterday. She will likely need surgery to correct it, he said.
The suit alleges that Backman had been drinking since the previous Ducks’ game before the incident at Byrnes’ home.
The suit accuses the baseball organization of “a history of tolerating, and benignly encouraging, Backman’s alcohol abuse.”
“The sports world is on notice; there are consequences for toleration of alcoholic jock behavior,” Ray said in the press release. “Women who date athletes will no longer accept the low standards of drunken jocks,” he said.
Long Island Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said in a tweet on the day of Backman’s arrest that he would remain the team’s manager.
“We are aware of the alleged incident involving Wally Backman,” Pfaff wrote on Twitter. “We have spoken with Wally and understand he categorically denies all charges against him. Wally will continue as manager and neither he nor the Long Island Ducks will comment further on this pending legal matter.”
Backman was a major league second baseman for 14 years, the first nine with the N.Y. Mets. He was a star player on the 1986 team that won the World Series, the Mets’ last.
Since retiring, Backman has had a career managing baseball teams at the minor league level. He was hired as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004 but released within days after reports surfaced of a 2001 domestic abuse charge, a DUI charge in 2000, and a personal bankruptcy in 2003.
In Backman’s first year as manager of the Ducks, an independent team in The Atlantic Baseball League, the team has had its most successful season to date, winning 86 regular season games, finishing at the top of its division and earning a berth in league playoffs.
Ray announced last night he will hold a press conference with Byrnes in his Miller Place office this morning.
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