July 30, 2009 - Northern League (NL) - Joliet JackHammers
JOLIET, IL-The Joliet JackHammers have announced that Wally Backman has been relieved of his duties as field manager of the team effective immediately. Backman will be replaced by former Joliet hitting coach Ira Smith, who will serve as the team\'s interim manager for the remainder of the 2009 season.
"The fans in Joliet deserve a winner," said Backman. "I\'m disappointed that we could not get the job done."
Backman departs with the JackHammers in sixth place in the Northern League with a 24-42 record. Smith comes back to Joliet after serving as Hal Lanier\'s hitting coach during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He began his coaching career with the Lincoln Saltdogs in 2004 as their bench coach and moved to the role of hitting coach in 2005 before spending two years with the JackHammers. He began a 14-year playing career when he was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1990 draft. Reaching AAA in the Padres and Tigers organizations, Smith first played in the Northern League in 1999 with Duluth-Superior. He logged five seasons in the Northern League (Sioux City, 2000-2001; Winnipeg, 2002; and Sioux City-Lincoln, 2003) before starting his coaching career in 2004. Smith will join the team on Friday when the JackHammers begin a three-game series with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Silver Cross Field.
"We want to thank Wally for all that he has done and all the hard work he has put in," said JackHammers Executive Vice President/General Manager Kelly Sufka. "He has done everything we\'ve asked him to do except for in the Win-Loss Column. Nobody is more disappointed with the teams\' record than Wally. A change needed to be made for our fans sake and this is the change that we believe needed to happen."
The JackHammers are home this weekend to start a three-game series with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks beginning on Friday, July 31 at 7:05 p.m. Come out to the ballpark for fireworks sponsored by Aramark after the game! For tickets, or for more information, please contact them TODAY at 815.726.2255 (BALL), visit their website www.jackhammerbaseball.com or stop by the Silver Cross Field Box Office during normal business hours.