Skipper gets second shot from league

Associated Press
Wally Backman, who resigned as manager of the South Georgia Peanuts on Tuesday, was reinstated Friday by the South Coast League.

The Arizona Diamondbacks didn't give Wally Backman a second chance three years ago. The South Georgia Peanuts, however, will give the beleaguered skipper another crack.


The South Coast League announced Friday it has reinstated the former New York Mets' second baseman as South Georgia manager for the remainder of the season.

Backman, who was hired by Arizona in 2004 and fired four days later amidst controversy relating to his personal conduct, resigned as South Georgia's manager on Tuesday afternoon. But he met with SCL officials Friday morning to discuss the return.

He had resigned following numerous conflicts with the SCL, a first-year independent league that includes the Aiken Foxhounds. He had been suspended a combined 14 games for various conduct problems but "expressed genuine regret and remorse," according to a statement from the SCL.

"The South Coast League takes pride in being seen as a league for second chances," a statement read. "From players to managers and front office personnel, we have all made mistakes and should be given the opportunity to make things right."

South Georgia has been the SCL's top team this season, having won the first half and is currently leading the second-half race.

Not only will Backman continue at the helm this season, the SCL announced it has come to terms on a contract extension for the 2008 season.

His resignation Tuesday came after his latest beef with the SCL, which Monday suspended two of his players who allegedly failed the league's drug test. According to the Albany Herald, Backman responded with a 228-word release and a news conference, which called out league medical director Rob Desantis for "not doing his job properly."

Previously, Backman had been suspended three games for bumping an umpire in a game against the Foxhounds on June 12 and suspended three more for an altercation with the radio broadcaster and general manager of the Anderson Joes on June 26 following an on-field tirade.

He also was suspended eight games after his team forfeited a game following a bench-clearing brawl against Macon on July 20. Backman already had been ejected from the game for a separate incident when the forfeit occurred, according to the Albany paper.

Suspended: South Georgia outfielder Doc Brooks and second baseman Joey Hooft were suspended 10 games by the league for failing the drug policy. The players' drug tests allegedly came back with a diluted sample from what the SCL called a masking agent.

Last week, Foxhounds Tim Sweeney and AJ Montano were suspended for the same reason.

Brooks, a former University of Georgia standout, leads the Peanuts in home runs, RBI and batting average. He was leading the SCL in RBI and was second in average.

MOVIN' UP: Former Butler standout Keltavious Jones went 35-for-97 (.361) for the Class A short-season Billings Mustangs in July, winning player of the month honors from the Reds' system. He was promoted last week to Class A Dayton, where he was 9-for-23 (.273) entering Friday's action. The 21-year-old lefty hit .256 in rookie league ball last year.

POT SHOT: The Savannah Sand Gnats held "Lindsay Lohan Drunk Driving Awareness Night" last Thursday, one day after the Hagerstown Suns held "Asterisk Appreciation Night" at their park.

In Lohan's honor, Savannah's promotion encouraged fans to wear their valid identification wristbands on their ankles.

A wrecked car from a drunk-driving accident was on display in front of the main ballpark entrance, and Savannah Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) was at the game with its blood alcohol testing van. The team said it wanted its fans to learn from Lohan's mistakes and plan for safe transportation home from the game.

Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or



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