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New Herd skipper Backman to wear Carter's No. 8 in tribute to late Mets teammate

New Bisons manager Wally Backman, the longtime former Mets second baseman, wore his heart on his sleeve Thursday night -- and said he will wear it on his back next season -- in the wake of the news of the death of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter.

Backman's No. 6 is retired in Buffalo for Ollie Carnegie so he was going to flip it and wear No. 9. Instead, he's going to don Carter's No. 8.

"It's for Gary," Backman said. "Gary was ... If I had an idol as a player I played with, Gary would definitely be one of them. Without question. In remembering Gary, I'm going to wear 8 until somebody tells me I can't wear it."

Backman told plenty of Carter stories to the couple hundred fans in the Hyatt Regency's Grand Ballroom and more to a group of reporters afterward. 

"Gary was like a big brother to me," Backman said. "I'm happy that was I able to spend a half-hour with him three weeks ago, a great conversation at his golf tournament [in Florida]. My memories will always be good about Gary."

Click below to hear Backman's interview session with reporters

Wally Backman

In other news announced at the Hot Stove Event:

---Hall of Famer and Mets legend Tom Seaver will be the keynote speaker at the Triple-A All-Star Game Luncheon July 11 at the Adam's Mark. Limited tickets are on sale ($25) at or by calling 846-2011. Seaver will also throw the ceremonial first pitch at the game that night.

---The team announced its full promotional schedule for the season with several tributes to the ballpark's 25th year, including a five-part commemorative coin series, an Earl of Bud bobblehead and appearance (Aug. 23) and a City Hall replica (July 18).

---The staff has been completed for Backman as Mark Brewer will be Buffalo's pitching coach in 2012 and George Greer will be the hitting coach. Brewer was in the Rookie League last year but has Triple-A experience with the Mets in New Orleans; Greer was at Kingsport of the Appalachian League in 2011 and has previous experience of 23 years as a college head coach, including 17 at Wake Forest.

---Mike Harrington


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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |