Rick Tomlin reunites with Wally Backman and Lew Ford
(Central Islip, N.Y., Jan. 12, 2022) – The Long Island Ducks today announced their coaching staff for the 2022 season. Rick Tomlin returns to the Flock as pitching coach after previously serving in that role during the 2019 championship-winning season. He joins returning manager Wally Backman and hitting coach Lew Ford to round out the staff.
“We are excited to welcome Rick back to our coaching staff,” said Ducks President/GM Michael Pfaff. “His wealth of experience and knowledge of the game are invaluable to our team. He formed a successful trio with Wally and Lew during our run to the title in 2019, and we look forward to having them lead our group this season.”
Tomlin initially took over the role of Ducks pitching coach on June 25, 2019, and served in that capacity through the end of the season. Long Island’s pitching staff led the Atlantic League in wins (86), strikeouts (1,210), saves (49), shutouts (14) and innings pitched (1,222.1) that season while ranking second in earned run average (3.81). The Ducks also led the ALPB in wins (6), ERA (3.75), and saves (4) while finishing second in strikeouts (75) during the postseason.
The 68-year-old has over 25 years of experience as a coach in professional baseball. He has previously held pitching coach positions in the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and New York Mets organizations. Additionally, he has served as a Minor League Pitching Coordinator for the Yankees, Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers. In total, Tomlin has earned five World Series championship rings, including one with the Twins and four with the Yankees.
“What better place to return to coaching than the Ducks?” said Tomlin. “Working with pitchers and helping them in their development is what I’ve always been about. Put that with Wally, Lew and I together again, and you have a winning combination. I’ve enjoyed retirement and being home but have really been itching to get back to what I’m about, and coming back to Long Island and the Ducks was the perfect solution. I’m excited about the upcoming season and competing for another championship.”
Backman begins his third season as Ducks manager in 2022. In his two seasons with the Flock, he has compiled a regular season record of 154-106, good for a .592 winning percentage. Long Island has posted the ALPB’s best record in both of his season’s managing the team, going 86-54 in 2019 and 68-52 in 2021. The 62-year-old has guided the Ducks to three half-season divisional titles, back-to-back division championships and the Atlantic League championship in 2019. He was named the league’s Manager of the Year in 2019 after winning both halves and breaking the franchise’s single-season wins record. Additionally, in his two seasons at the helm, more than 30 Ducks players have had their contracts purchased by or joined Major League organizations/foreign professional leagues.
The Oregon native has over 20 seasons of managerial experience across professional baseball, having amassed a 1,281-1,183 overall record (.520 winning percentage). In that time, he has led his teams to eight division championships and four league championships. Prior to his coaching career, Backman enjoyed a 14-year Major League playing career. Nine of those seasons (1980-88) were played with the New York Mets, where he helped lead the team to a World Series Championship in 1986. He also spent time in “The Show” with the Minnesota Twins (1989), Pittsburgh Pirates (1990), Philadelphia Phillies (1991-92) and Seattle Mariners (1993), compiling a .275 batting average in 1,102 MLB games.
Ford returns for his 12th season with the Ducks organization, more than any other player in franchise history, and eighth in a player/coach role. He is the franchise’s all-time leading hitter (min. 500 at bats), with a .319 batting average and 968 hits in a Ducks uniform. He is just 128 hits away from tying former Ducks infielder Bryant Nelson for the most hits in Atlantic League history (1,096). The Texas native has totaled 479 RBIs, 506 runs and 213 doubles in a Ducks uniform, which leave him 69 RBIs, 93 runs and 32 doubles shy of tying Ray Navarrete for the Ducks all-time records. Ford’s 810 games with the Flock have him 78 games shy of equaling Dan Lyons’ team record.
The 45-year-old has been selected to play in three Atlantic League All-Star Games while with the Ducks (2014, 2015, 2018). In 2014, he became the second player in franchise history to be named the Atlantic League Player of the Year after breaking the league’s single-season records for hits (189) and games played (140). As a coach, the Central Islip resident helped two other Ducks players be named ALPB Player of the Year (Jordany Valdespin, 2018; Steve Lombardozzi, 2021). Ford has amassed six seasons of Major League experience during his 22-year playing career, spending time with the Minnesota Twins (2003-07) and Baltimore Orioles (2012).
The Long Island Ducks are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, a Professional Partner League of Major League Baseball. Over 8 million fans have enjoyed the Ducks brand of affordable, fun entertainment at Fairfield Properties Ballpark since inception in 2000. For further information, visit LIDucks.com or call 631-940-DUCK (3825).
About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
The Atlantic League is the first Professional Partner League of Major League Baseball, a player gateway to the major leagues, and a leader in baseball innovation. ALPB has sent over 1,000 players to MLB organizations while drawing over 42 million fans to its family friendly ballparks throughout its 24-year history. Please visit www.atlanticleague.com.