Gene “Stick” Michael, Who Built ‘90s Yankees Dynasty, Dies at 79

Gene “Stick” Michael, who helped build the most recent New York Yankees’ dynasty, passed away Thursday of a heart attack at the age of 79. The announcement was made on the Yankees’ website.

Michael was also remembered by friends and Yankees fans on Twitter.

Michael was installed as the Yankees’ general manager by owner George Steinbrenner in 1990. During this time, he restocked the farm system, and the team’s prospects grew and developed. These included what became known as the “Core Four,” made up of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada.

Michael also traded for Paul O’Neill in 1992, who went on to bat .303 in his nine years with the team. The Core Four, along with O’Neill, led the team to World Series wins in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2,000.

Notably, during Michael’s regime, Jeter was drafted sixth overall in 1992 and went on to be the team’s shortstop for two decades.

Gene Michael waves to the crowd
Former New York Yankee Gene Michael waves to the crowd during the team’s 63rd Old Timers Day before the game against the Detroit Tigers on July 19, 2009 at Yankee Stadium. | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

“Gene Michael was not only largely responsible for the success of the Yankees organization, but also for my development as a player,” Jeter said today in a statement released by the Yankees. “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.”

Michael was fired as the team’s general manager after the 1994-95 labor dispute, but he is credited for setting the wheels in motion for the team to make the playoffs for the next 13 consecutive years, according to USA Today.

Michael was born in 1938 in Kent, Ohio, and after attending Kent State, became a Major League shortstop for 10 years, seven of which were with the Yankees. After retiring from playing baseball in 1975, he became a coach for the Yankees, then managed the team in 1981 and 1982. He also managed the Chicago Cubs from 1986-87.