Gerald L. Backman was born Oct. 16,1930, in Vliets, to Donald Allen Backman and Ella Edith Victoria Vandorn Backman. He was the second A of four children and spent his entire life in the Vliets community until his death on Feb. 8, 2021, surrounded by family.
He attended grade school in Vliets and graduated from Frankfort High School in 1948, a letterman in multiple sports, but his love of baseball outshined them all. Beginning at a young age, he picked up the game as pitcher, short stop and second baseman. He had dreams of playing collegiate and profession baseball. At the age of 15, he took the train with several buddies to Kansas City and tried out for the New York Yankees. The three-day event eliminated players as coaches watched them play. Bud made the last cut which meant he played in the final try out game, earning him an interview. In the interview he shared he was fifteen which disqualified him from moving forward as the minimum age was sixteen. He was told “Come back Bud when you are sixteen.” This did not happen as soon after the U.S. entered WWII. He shared stories of getting $4 for pitching a game, playing for crowds of over 500 at the Frankfort Ball Park, and playing baseball against Earl Woods (Tiger’s father) who was playing on the Blue Rapids team.
Bud did play collegiate baseball for Kansas State University from 1948 to 1950, lettering his second year. However, he left Kansas State to take over the family farm in 1950 when his father died. His love of farming took the front seat at that time. He remained an avid Kansas State fan and season ticket holder of baseball, basketball (1948-2018) and football (1968-2019) with the family still sitting in the same football seats today. He loved to tailgate with the Sisk family, and talk to visiting fans saying after a short visit “Well good luck today...but not too much!” with a grin.
He married Betty Dean McLean of Fostoria, Kan., on Nov. 11, 1956, and at that time, went back to Kansas State to complete his Agriculture degree in Soil Sciences and Botany in 1958. He was one of the first graduates with that degree and was asked to teach for the Department of Agriculture, which he turned down to put his degree into practice as a grain and livestock farmer until his death due to complications of COVID.
Bud was known for his smile, easy going and positive attitude, humor, and leadership. He served on multiple boards including the Vliets Farmers Cooperative, USD 38o school, Rural Water District #3, Salem Lutheran Church and Marshall County ASCS Office, and sold insurance in Marshall and Washington County as well as in Nebraska, and Missouri for many years.
He loved spending time with his family, especially taking his grandkids fishing, attending KSU bowl games and taking “rides to see the crops”. Family trips included taking the back roads to see how things were growing in the states being driven through and attending professional baseball games, including his favorite team the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a Mason with the Kansas Masonic Lodge #91 of Marysville.
Bud was preceded in death by his parents, sister Carol Rasmussen, brothers Richard Backman and Howard Backman. He is survived by his wife Betty of the home, son Ron Backman, daughters Karla (Terry) Bishop all of Vliets and Gayla (Dennis) Randel of Frankfort, as well as six grandchildren (Jeremy (Liz) Bishop, Jessica (Hunter) Oswalt, Devin Randel, Brennan Randel, Sam Backman and Jack Backman), one great grandson Bryson Bishop, and many nieces and nephews who loved Uncle Bud very much. Due to Buds many years both playing and coaching youth baseball, a memorial is being established to support the Frankfort Youth Ball Association and Tom Watson Ball Field.
Washington County News • Feb 18, 2021