Gene "Stick" Michael, the beloved Yankees executive nicknamed "the architect" who helped build their late-1990s dynasty teams and drafted Derek Jeter, has died of a heart attack at age 79
Michael (pictured above with me) had already spent two decades in baseball when he was named general manager of the Yankees in 1990. It was the beginning of magical time in NY Yankees history and the start of a five-year tenure that would define his career. From 1990-95, Michael built the farm system that would help yield four World Series championships in the five years to close out the decade.
As a lifelong Yankees fan, I had the opportunity to chat with Gene during Yankees "Old Timers" weekend at Yankees Stadium this past June. We talked about his playing days as a shortstop, the great Yankees teams of the 90's and championships made possible thanks to the "architect." I admired Gene as a person, his great baseball mind, how he would see and notice things most wouldn't. Gene did it the right way and other organizations followed his lead. A true pioneer!
Under Michael's watch, the Yankees acquired players and some future baseball hall of famers such as the "Core Four," Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada either via signings, the Draft or trade. Each of the four have had their Yankees numbers retired. Gene traded popular prospect Roberto Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Paul O'Neill. O'Neill's number 21 hasn't been used regularly since he retired after the 2001 season.
In 2003, Michael was promoted to vice-president and senior advisor. In this role Michael was one of the key attributers to acquiring star third baseman Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers.
Reggie Jackson credited Michael's scouting reports for helping him hit three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series vs. the L.A. Dodgers. The 40th anniversary of that memorable game is next month.
"Stick was a great man with enormous heart and integrity," Yankees president Randy Levine said. "One of the greatest baseball executives of our time. He was central to the success of the Yankees."
Born in 1938 in Kent, Ohio, Michael parlayed a two-sport career at Kent State into a 10-year run as a Major League shortstop, seven of them (1968-74) with the Yankees. He became a coach with the club after retiring from playing in 1975, and managed the team across two separate tenures in 1981 and 1982. Michael also managed the Cubs from 1986-87.
In total, Michael spent parts of five decades in baseball, serving as a player, coach, manager, scout and executive.
Gene Michael was the architect of my childhood happiness as a Yankees fan.
Thank you for everything Stick! Please say hi to George, Yogi, Mickey, Thurman, Bobby and the many Yankees greats for me
Source: NY Daily News / NY Yankees