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A supplemental report also says that when officers interviewed Wally, his account was "vague and lacked detail. He was clearly evasive about his actions in this event and was found to be untruthful in his actions."
Wally tells a far different version of what happened that night. He and Sandi had been arguing that day, yes, but it was a routine domestic squabble about an impending hunting trip. Wally says he stormed out of their house, went fishing in the Crooked River and then had dinner at his parents' house. Upon his return home, he found the side door locked. He seldom carried house keys; doors in Prineville are often unlocked. He shouted at the four women inside to open up. They refused. Enraged, he put his shoulder to the door and pushed the dead bolt through the molding. Barring his way into the kitchen was family friend Rhoden, wielding a Louisville Slugger.
"Leave, Wally," Sherrie commanded.
"This is my house!" Wally shouted.
In the ensuing struggle for the bat, it popped back into her face. "It barely touched her," Backman says, "just enough to cause the tiniest pinprick of blood."
He says he then let go of the bat and said, "Go ahead, hit me."
She did. Backman got his left arm up in time to block the blow, which broke his forearm. (He later realized that the bat was one he had swung in the 1986 World Series.) "It was a stupid fight," says Backman, who still has a 10-inch titanium plate in his arm that causes metal detectors to beep. "It was a husband-and-wife thing that got out of hand. We were mad. People overreacted. But I never laid a hand on my wife."
Sandi Backman agrees. She'd invited Rhoden, along with friends Sarah and Karis Sweet, over that afternoon. "We girls had been drinking a few beers and having a bit of a man-bashing session," Sandi says. Wally eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment.
It is difficult to determine exactly what transpired that evening. Certainly, Wally was threatening his wife and the other women in the house. He was, according to the officers on the scene, drunk. Yet should the police report be used as a prism through which to view the whole marriage? Or was this, as Wally insists, an isolated incident in an otherwise healthy relationship? Today the Backmans seem like a happy couple, and Sandi downplays that evening as nothing more than a bad memory. Judge Hollenbeck describes that sort of dismissive appraisal as "very common in domestic violence situations. [The wives] say, 'Oh, he's a good man when he's sober, please don't put him in jail.'"
With the help of a private investigator, the Diamondbacks' ownership--which was facing an onslaught of media criticism--was now piecing together its own version of events. Kendrick spoke with Rhoden, who insisted that she had instigated the fight. "I was totally out of line," Rhoden told SI. "Sandi and I have been friends a long time, and I was overly protective of her. I shouldn't have been involved." Sarah Sweet says, "It was a fight that blew out of proportion. I never thought it was his intent to hurt anybody."