EX-HAWKEYE: Backlund, a second-team All-American for Iowa in 1992, was the Hawkeyes' MVP as a junior and senior. An infielder as well as a pitcher, he played three years for Coach Duane Banks after a season at Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, Ariz.
"I looked at schools like Texas A&M and others, but programs like those you might sit for a year or two - I wanted to play," he said. "I knew the school would be better at Iowa. And, at Iowa, once you're given a scholarship, it's yours. Plus, they have what is like a five-year scholarship."
A native of Salem, Ore., Backlund was a three-sport all-stater at McNary High School, where his father is the head baseball coach.
Signed by Pittsburgh in 1992, he made only five appearances with Class A Augusta, Ga., then bounced back and forth between Class AA and Class AAA for the next 4 seasons. Backlund, 27, was a teammate at Calgary last year with former Briar Cliff star Reed Secrist.
In 141 minor league appearances, Backlund has 107 starts, 656 innings, a 35-43 record and a 4.34 ERA.
"The problem was I didn't ever do the same thing for more than a few weeks at a time," he said. "Most of the time, I was a starter. Then, I got released in spring training.
"I'm just trying to basically make this team. Once that happens, I can go from there." (Sioux City Journal 5/21/97)