PHOENIX — In his 14 seasons as a major league infielder, Wally Backman played for managers Joe Torre, Davey Johnson, Tom Kelly, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella.
So when Backman interviewed Wednesday for the Diamondbacks’ managerial opening, he shared what he gleaned from all those skippers.
“He talked about the managers that he played for and the things that he had learned from them,” general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said.
“I think you take parts of each one of them and you go on from there,” Backman said before boarding a plane back to his Oregon home.
“It's always a learning process.”
Anaheim Angels bench coach Joe Maddon and Colorado Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk will interview today, and Texas Rangers first-base coach DeMarlo Hale is scheduled for Friday.
Arizona has also interviewed Manny Acta, who spent the past three seasons as the Montreal Expos’ third-base coach; broadcaster and former Arizona first baseman Mark Grace; former D-Backs bench coach and Seattle manager Bob Melvin; and Al Pedrique, who managed the Diamondbacks the second half of this season.
In his first year with the D-Backs, Backman managed Class A Lancaster, winning the first half and — after losing many of his top prospects to promotion — the second half, going 42-27 each time. Lancaster lost in the final game of the California League championship series.
“Wally can win games with anybody,” D-Backs farmhand Corey Myers said.
The JetHawks were named Baseball America's team of the year and Backman was honored as The Sporting News’ minor league manager of the year.
Before joining Arizona, Backman managed four seasons in independent leagues and three years in the Chicago White Sox organization. His overall record is 410-396.
“This is obviously an interview that he's been ready to have for a long time,” Garagiola said.
“I felt good about it,” Backman said.
“I got to say the things I want to say. I think they liked what I said.”
Wednesday's interview took place at The Phoenician as Bank One Ballpark was being cleared by the Secret Service for a Republican debate gathering.