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Michael in 2014
|Shortstop / Manager|
June 2, 1938|
|Died: September 7, 2017
|July 15, 1966, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 9, 1975, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||226|
As general manager
|Career highlights and awards|
Eugene Richard Michael (June 2, 1938 – September 7, 2017) was an American shortstop, coach, scout, manager and executive in Major League Baseball who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Detroit Tigers from 1966 to 1975. After his playing career, Michael managed the Yankees and Chicago Cubs, and served as the Yankees' general manager. Michael built the Yankees team that became a dynasty in the late 1990s.
Michael was born on June 2, 1938 in Kent, Ohio. After graduating from Akron East High School in Akron, Ohio, he went to Kent State University where he played college baseball and college basketball for the Kent State Golden Flashes.
The following year, the Pirates traded Michael to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Bob Bailey for Maury Wills. He spent one season in Los Angeles, and was then purchased by the New York Yankees. He played for the Yankees from 1968 until 1974. The Yankees released Michael before the 1975 season, and he signed with the Detroit Tigers. Michael then signed with the Boston Red Sox in 1976, but did not play a game with Boston; they released him in May without using him in a game. He retired with a .229 batting average, 15 home runs, and 226 runs batted in in 973 games played. Michael was a master of the hidden ball trick, having pulled it off five times in his career.
Weeks after his release from Boston, Michael became a coach with the Yankees. Reggie Jackson credited Michael's scouting reports for helping him hit three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. He served as manager of the Yankees Triple-A team in 1979, and as general manager of the Yankees in 1980. Michael served as the Yankees' manager in 1981 and again in 1982. At one point in the 1981 season, annoyed by George Steinbrenner's constant interference, he challenged the Yankees owner to to fire him, which he did. Michael finished with a record of 92 wins and 76 losses over both stints as Yankees manager. Michael returned to the Yankees front office in 1983, and again served as a coach starting in 1984. He managed the Chicago Cubs in 1986 and 1987. His managerial record with the Chicago Cubs was 114 wins and 124 losses.
In 1990, Michael was hired as general manager of the Yankees. At a time when Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball operations by Commissioner Fay Vincent, Michael took advantage of his newfound managerial flexibility by rebuilding the Yankees farm system, and developing young talent rather than trading it away, as they had done in the 1980s with little success. During Michael's tenure as general manager, the Yankees drafted or signed such notable players as Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada (collectively known as the Core Four), and others. Further, he traded for Paul O'Neill. Michael also demonstrated patience with Bernie Williams, whom Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had wanted to trade when he struggled early in his career.
This foundation paid off with Yankees championships in 1996, and from 1998–2000. However Michael was fired in 1995, before the Yankees dynasty began to win World Series, as a result of the fallouts from the 1994 strike, which ended the Yankees chance of having the best record in the American League that year. It was the second time that the Yankees fired Michael as a result of a strike; in 1981, he was fired as manager as a result of the team slumping after the 1981 strike.
From 1996 until 2002, Michael served as vice-president of major league scouting for the Yankees. In 2002, the Boston Red Sox tried to talk to Michael about their general manager position, but were not given permission by the Yankees. In 2003, Michael was promoted to vice-president and senior advisor.
|New York Yankees||1981||1981||82||48||34||.585|
|New York Yankees||1982||1982||86||44||42||.512|
During his tenure with the Yankees, Michael had been a resident of Norwood, New Jersey, and had four children. He married twice, his first marriage to Rae Reuter, ending in divorce. Michael died of a heart attack on September 7, 2017, in Oldsmar, Florida at age 79. Survivors at the time of his death include his second wife and four children. To honor Michael, the Yankees will wear black armbands on their uniforms for the rest of the 2017 season.
'The strike cost me my job,' said Gene Michael, the Yankees' current general manager who was fired as their manager Sept. 6, 1981 and replaced by Bob Lemon. 'There's no doubt in my mind we would have won the division outright if it had not been for the strike. Once they split the season and designated us winners of the first half, we did not play the same.'