Gene “Stick” Michael, the former Yankees shortstop, manager, general manager, super scout and executive who helped build the franchise’s dynasty teams of the 1990s, has died of a heart attack at age 79.
Michael was installed as the general manager in 1990 while meddlesome owner George Steinbrenner served a two-year suspension for paying an informant to get dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield.
He became the architect of teams that won four titles in five seasons.
With Steinbrenner out of the way, Michael rebuilt the farm system, which had been decimated by years of trading young talent for big names. Michael’s keen eye provided the Yankees with rosters that included Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.
In possibly the most lopsided Yankees trade since Babe Ruth was acquired, Michael obtained Paul O’Neill from the Cincinnati Reds in November 1992 as he continued to build a franchise that eventually won titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Michael was the Yankees manager in 1981-82 and their GM from 1991-95. He played for the Yankees from 1968 to 1974, earning the nickname “Stick” because of his slender physique. Michael, known for his glove, batted .229 in 10 major league seasons. He was known for pulling the hidden ball trick — hiding the ball in his glove and tagging out a runner who wandered off second base.
Gene Michael was a savant seeing baseball talent. He could not always verbalize what he saw, but he saw what most others couldn’t #Yankees
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) September 7, 2017
RIP Gene Michael. Brilliant baseball man, beloved in #Yankees‘ organization.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 7, 2017
What a terrible loss to #Yankees family and MLB community. Stick Michael was a visionary, a pioneer and a great man. RIP
— Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) September 7, 2017
RIP Gene “Stick” Michael, seen here in 1969 playing for the Yankees and in later years helped build the 90s Yankee Dynasty as their GM pic.twitter.com/6QkSKZWacJ
— Old Baseball Photos (@OTBaseballPhoto) September 7, 2017
Crushed. We just lost a great man on and off the field. Touched so many lives. RIP Stick pic.twitter.com/bv6GRSgkAY
— David Cone (@dcone36) September 7, 2017
Randy Levine on Gene Michael: “Stick was a great man with enormous heart & integrity. One of the greatest baseball executives of our time.”
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) September 7, 2017
Devastated to hear about the loss of Gene Michael. We’ll miss you dearly, Stick. pic.twitter.com/iC6T2OH3em
— Yogi Berra Museum (@Yogi_Museum) September 7, 2017