Thursday, September 7, 2017


Photo: Getty Images
Someone once told me that a person isn't judged by success alone, we are also measured by the things we do and the positive way we impact people.  This past week the Yankee Family lost a man that was truly an all around success story. 

(National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
Gene "Stick" Michael did just about everything he could do for the Yankees.  As a player he wasn't a Hall of Famer, but he gave it his all at the professional level and was a beloved teammate in the Bomber's Clubhouse. 

Gene was a manager in the Bronx and help bring the Yankee Way to the players he skippered.  However it was his years as General Manager that really set "The Stick" a part from the crowd.  A brilliant baseball mind, Gene Michael was the chief architect behind the last Yankee Dynasty. 

He was responsible for things like hanging on to young talent with names like Williams, Posada, Rivera, Pettitte...oh and some kid from Kalamazoo who turned out alright I guess.  The Stick also traded for a struggling, Irish head-case named O'Neill

He went out and landed David Cone and Daryl Strawberry.  In short, this Yoda of Baseball was using the force to build one of the greatest teams ever to take the field while holding the trigger happy Boss at bay.  Sure, Mr. Steinbrenner had been suspended, but Michael never shied away from going nose to nose with King George if he felt strongly about the moves the club NEEDED to make.

I think it is more than fair to say that Gene Michael influenced more GM's in Baseball than Bill Walsh did in the NFL.  If you asked the likes of Beane, Epstein, Shapiro and our own wunderkind Brian Cashman, they'd ABSOLUTELY say they'd stolen a page or 10 from Stick's playbook.  The man knew baseball and how to build winners.  He made calls using his eyes and the numbers...but Stick also stuck to his gut.  Whether it was rookie that hadn't hit his stride yet or a well placed veteran with some pop left, Gene Michael knew how to find pieces that worked.  He not only changed the New York Yankee team, he changed the New York Yankee culture.

I didn't know Mr. Michael.  I'd only seen him at Old Timer's Day or sitting near the dugout at the odd Spring Training game.  I'm not sure I'd have noticed him if he were in front of me in the 12 Items or Less line at Stop 'n Shop...but most of the most important people we'll ever know aren't the ones who garner fame and fortune.  They are usually behind the scenes people.  They are a coach, teacher or friend that does the little things that make our lives better.  From what I've read, that was The Stick...and he'll be missed.

Thank you, Gene Stick Michael.  We won't ever forget ya.

** Thank you, Stick. Truly The Man of the Hour **

  --Mike O'Hara
BYB Contributor
Follow me on Twitter: @mikeyoh21

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