Wednesday, November 30, 2005

November 30th, 1967

Yankees Purchase Gene Michael

Michael, nicknamed 'Stick' by someone with a sense of irony (he only hit higher than .235 twice in ten seasons while hitting .225 or less six times) was acquired by the Yankees to help shore up the shortstop position, manned primarily in those days by whatever was left of Tom Tresh. Michael was about what you would've expected, not hitting a lick, but hung around with the club until the 1975 season. Michael's best talent on the ball field was probably the hidden ball trick; he claims to have used it successful five times.

He is most notable for something else however. In Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups, Neyer has an essay titled The Little Move That Became a Big One, telling the story of Sandy Alderson's acquisition of Billy Beane and the contributions that move would end up making to the A's franchise. Michael's acquisition was probably not as big for the Yankees as Beane's was for the A's, but it was a big one nonetheless. Michael would spend some time managing the Yankees non-continuously in 1981 and '82, accumulating an impressive 92-76 two year record. He left to manage the Cubs for the 1986 and '87 seasons, but those would be his only post-retirement years not with the Yankees and by 1990 he was put in place as GM while George Steinbrenner was serving his suspension. Without the meddling of The Boss, Michael began to implement the program that would develop the talent that led to the Yankees' Torre-era Dynasty. Players drafted and/or developed under Michael's watch included Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

Michael served as GM until 1995 when he left the position for Bob Watson, having decided five years as Prime Minister in the
Kingdom of George was plenty. His name is often tossed about when discussing GM openings--the Yankees denied the Red Sox a chance to talk to him in 2002--and Yankee power struggles. At the moment, Michael seems to be back in favor, a fact which, given his history, can only fill a Yankee fan's heart with delight.

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