Gene “Stick” Michael, the beloved Yankees executive who helped build their late-1990s dynasty teams and drafted Derek Jeter, has died of a heart attack at age 79, the Daily News has learned.
It is believed Michael underwent a procedure on his heart earlier this year, but the news was kept private. He was in his Oldsmar, Fla. home when he died.
Michael played for the Yankees from 1968-74. He served as GM in 1980 and from 1991-95, and managed the Bombers from 1981-82. Since 1996, he has devoted the majority of his time to MLB scouting and serving as an advisor to New York’s baseball operations department. He held the title of Yankees senior VP and special advisor from 2006 until his passing.
“Stick was a pillar of this organization for decades,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “He knew the game of baseball like few others did, and was always willing and excited to talk about it with anyone in earshot. His contributions to the Yankees over the years have been immeasurable. He loved baseball and this organization, and he will be profoundly missed. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Joette, and his entire family.”
“I am heartbroken by Stick’s passing,” GM Brian Cashman added. “He was both a friend and mentor to me, and I relied upon his advice and guidance throughout my career. He did it all in this industry — player, coach, manager, general manager and scout — and his knowledge base was second to none. My condolences go out to his family, friends and all those he touched throughout his lifetime in the game. I will miss him.”
“Gene Michael was not only largely responsible for the success of the Yankees organization, but also for my development as a player,” Jeter said. “He was always accessible and willing to share his personal knowledge as well as support. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family.”
During Michael’s tenure as GM, he rebuilt the farm system, adding the likes of Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada either in the draft or free agency. He also traded Roberto Kelly for Paul O’Neill. That core group helped the Bombers to championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
The news of Michael’s death led to a swift outpouring of affection for the man known as “Stick.”
Buck Showalter, who Michael hired to be the Yankees skipper in 1992, said he had to pull over to the side of the road when his wife called him with the tough news Thursday.
“He was the best baseball man I ever saw,” the Orioles manager said before his club faced the Yankees in Baltimore. “He never missed on an infielder.”
“Crushed,” David Cone tweeted. “We just lost a great man on and off the field. Touched so many lives. RIP Stick.”
Paul O’Neill, who Michael traded for in 1992, also shared his thoughts via social media.
“So sorry to hear about Gene Michael,” O’Neill tweeted. “Thank you for giving me the best opportunity of my life: playing for the Yankees … you will be missed!!!”
The Yankees will wear arm bands on their left sleeves in memory of Michael.
Published at Thu, 07 Sep 2017 16:03:59 +0000