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8 PCB007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2021 Nolan's Notes by Nolan Johnson, I-CONNECT007 Manufacturing Excellence It's springtime in the United States, and even the late stages of the pandemic can't seem to shut down Major League Baseball. As I write this column, the buzz is about the Tex- as Rangers hosting the Toronto Blue Jays in a packed, non-distanced stadium full of fans. Baseball has captured my attention since I was very young and growing up on the edge of the Portland, Oregon, metro area. I'd spend significant time at my grandparents' farm and the kid next door—just a few years old- er than me—was forever packing around his mitt, looking for someone to play a game of catch with. While he preferred catching from the stronger arms of the adults in the neighbor- hood over my still- developing 8-year-old arm, he'd sometimes let me throw to him. He taught me some of the finer points of throwing a base- ball. Later on, that kid—Wally B a c k m a n — ended up in the majors. In 1986, alongside Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, and others, Back- man helped earn the New York Mets a World Series championship. In a game built around specialization, Back- man's specialty was as a generalist. Baseball calls guys like Wally a "utility player." His val- ue to the team was that you could ask him to do nearly any job on the field and know that he would be an offensive threat as a batter as well. He wasn't a slugger; he didn't hit showy home runs. Instead, he consistently put the ball into play, advancing other teammates al- ready on the bases, and moving the runners closer to a score. Baseball Refer- ence says this about Wal- ly: "If 'scrappy' ever gets its own link in this wiki, it will link to Wally Backman. Back- man was the type o f p l a y e r y o u loved if he was on your team and

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