Healing Gammons back in the house

Published August 20, 2006

BOSTON - Hall of Fame sportswriter and ESPN analyst Peter Gammons was at Fenway Park on Saturday, his first visit to a major-league stadium since his brain aneurysm in June.

Gammons visited both clubhouses before the game between the Yankees and Red Sox. The former newspaperman, 61, was speaking with New York manager Joe Torre in the visitors' clubhouse when hitting coach Don Mattingly came up to say hello.

Gammons and his wife, Gloria, watched the game from Boston owner John Henry's box. A note welcoming him to the game was posted on the scoreboard during the sixth inning, drawing an ovation, while a recording of Gammons singing the Chuck Berry song Carol was played over the loudspeaker.

BACKMAN DETERMINED: Wally Backman has fond memories of winning the 1986 World Series with the Mets. His memories of his four-day stint as Diamondbacks manager still sting.

Backman, who joined most of his '86 teammates at Shea Stadium for an anniversary celebration, is trying to get back into baseball after an embarrassing episode in 2004. Arizona hired him as manager that November, then dismissed him four days later because of evidence that arose from off-the-field problems.

The fiery Backman still feels Arizona handled the situation extremely poorly.

"That's basically the way that I feel and that won't change," Backman said. "The stuff that they put my family through, so many half-truths, the way the media took care of that in Arizona. ... It was very unprofessional."

CROSSING THE LINE: Ryan Leli, 18, of Suffolk County loves the Mets so much, authorities say he posed as a reporter to get into Shea Stadium and talk with players.

Police arrested Leli on Friday night at Shea just before the start of the Mets-Rockies game and charged him with impersonating a journalist, the Queens District Attorney announced.

Prosecutors say Leli told Mets management he worked for NBC Universal and showed a fake NBC employee identification card so he could get press credentials.

UMP RETURNS: Umpire Jerry Layne returned to work in Miami less than 24 hours after being injured and taken off the field on a stretcher. Friday night, the barrel of a shattered bat hit Layne in the side of the head, bruising his jaw.