Hard-boozing ex-Met Wally Backman was “a habitual drunkard” who knocked back mid-game drinks while managing the Long Island Ducks — with one all-night bender ending when he shoved his girlfriend, cutting her wrist with his 1986 World Series ring, a lawsuit charged Tuesday.
The oft-troubled Backman also used a racial slur to describe one of the players on his minor league team, and argued drunkenly with an umpire during the ballgame that preceded his early-morning scuffle with plaintiff Amanda Byrnes, according to the nine-page Suffolk County Supreme Court lawsuit.
"It was horrible,” Byrnes told the Daily News about her rough treatment at the hands of a supposedly soused Backman inside her Riverhead home. “He was highly intoxicated, verbally abusive, and continually drinking when he came home. He’s a different person when he starts drinking.”
An irrational Backman also became fixated on the idea of Byrnes sleeping with one of his players, former Cincinnati Reds catcher Ramon Cabrera, and used a slur for Hispanics when referring to the minor league ballplayer during a rant before the cops arrived on Aug. 30, the lawsuit alleged.
Backman threatened to arrange for Cabrera’s deportation to his home country of Venezuela and quickly “became unduly belligerent ... approaching plaintiff in an irrational, observably angry and intoxicated condition, and raised his hands confrontationally, in a threatening manner,” the lawsuit alleges about the ugly encounter.
Backman, the scrappy and beloved second baseman for the ’86 Mets, had a previous domestic abuse incident involving his wife and a drunken driving arrest in 2001. He’s not alone among his teammates in battling problems with alcohol or drugs, as the off-field behavior of Lenny Dykstra, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry landed all three behind bars.
Byrnes’ attorney John Ray alleged that Backman slammed his client against a wall so hard that her pacemaker was dislodged, and his World Series ring cut into her wrist when the ex-ballplayer grabbed her arm. Backman was charged with harassment and criminal mischief after the cops put him in handcuffs.
The lawsuit also charged the Long Island Ducks with allowing Backman to drink during games and on their property, turning a blind eye to his consumption. A call to the team for comment Tuesday was not returned, and an attorney for Backman did not return emails to respond.
According to attorney Ray, the goateed Backman’s drinking during Ducks home games was standard procedure.
Byrne “would observe Backman repeatedly, frequently and openly consuming cups of alcoholic beverage in the clubhouse and upon the stadium’s premises,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendant Backman would become ... intoxicated by reason of his said alcohol consumption at (Ducks) games.”
Court documents viewed by The News indicated Byrnes, 39, had her own problems, including mental health issues and a number of arrests before she and the 61-year-old Backman became an item in June of this year.
Byrnes seeks unspecified damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress and sexual abuse from Backman, along with damages from the Ducks for ignoring the situation.
“We want to say to the traditional jock world, where alcohol seems to be the rule, you don’t have the right anymore to abuse women when you go and get drunk,” said Ray. “It seems to be a very prevalent condition, it certainly was in 1986 with the Mets, and it remains true.”