Gene “Stick” Michael, who was a beloved executive with the New York Yankees, helped to build their dynasty teams of the late-1990s and drafted future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, has died at the age of 79 after suffering a heart attack, said the American League club on Thursday.
No confirmation has been made, but one source said that Michael had undergone a heart procedure at some point earlier in the year, but that news had been kept private from the general public.
Michael was the New York Yankees manager in 1981 and 1982 and he was the team’s general manager from 1991 through 1995.
During the tenure of Michael as the Yankees GM, he helped to rebuild the team’s farm system adding players such as Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte as well as Jorge Posada. All of them came through free agency or the draft.
Michael also was the one who traded Roberto Kelly for Paul O’Neill. The core group of the previously named players helped the Yankees to win titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000, which were some of the best years the organization has seen since the 1960s.
News of the death of Michael led to a quick outpouring of affection for the man known as just ‘Stick.”
In 1992 Michael hired Buck Showalter to be the skipper of the Yankees. Showalter said he needed to pull off the road when he was called by his wife and told of Michael’s passing.
The manager of the Orioles called Michael the best baseball man he had ever seen. He added that Michael never missed when it came to picking an infielder.
David Cone tweeted that he was, “Crushed. He added that baseball has just lost one of its greats both on and off the diamond. Cone concluded his tweet saying Michaels had touched so many lives.
Paul O’Neill, who in 1992 Michael traded for, shared his thought as well on social media. He said that he was very sorry to hear of the passing of Michael. He thanked Michael for giving him the best opportunity in is life; playing for the New York Yankees. He concluded his tweet by saying Michael would be missed.
New York will wear black arm bands in memory of Michael beginning with their next game.
Michael managed the Chicago Cubs for two seasons in 1986 and 1987 and his career record as a MLB manager was 206-200.
No information has been released regarding funeral services.