New York Yankees Unsung Hero Gene Michael Dies At 79
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees is presented with milestone memorabilia by former General Manager of the Yankees Gene Michael before the game on September 29, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Gene Michael — one of the most underrated pieces of the New York Yankees organization — passed away Thursday morning.

The New York Yankees community received some unfortunate news on Thursday morning, as Gene Michael passed away at the age of 79.

Michael’s career in pinstripes started as a player. After spending his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively, “Stick” suited up for the Yankees from 1968 until 1974. Over that span, the middle infielder compiled a triple slash of .233/.296/.289 in 789 games.

But Michael’s claim to fame with the organization clearly wasn’t as a player — it was as an executive.

Throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s, Michael was a fixture both in the dugout and the front office. After working as an assistant coach in 1978 and as the manager of the organization’s Triple-A affiliate in 1979, he was named General Manager of the Yankees in 1980. From there, he went on to manage the big league ball club for two seasons (1981-82).

After a stint with the Chicago Cubs, Michael returned to the Yankees in 1990, once again serving as the team’s GM.

And that’s when the dynasty was born.

From 1991-1995, Michael replenished the farm system and preached to build from within. He drafted Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada and signed Mariano Rivera out of Panama. After establishing the Core Four and Bernie Williams as future cornerstone talents, Michael made shrewd trades for Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson, as well as signing veteran free agents like Jimmy Key, Wade Boggs and Darryl Strawberry. The combination of moves catapulted the Yankees to four World Series Championships in five seasons.

Once removed as GM, Michael has served in roles such as Vice President of Major League Scouting, Vice President of the organization and, most recently, Senior Advisor. Despite his loss, his impact will continue to be felt, as he’s had a hand in the current crop of Baby Bombers that are expected to bring a new wave of championships to the Bronx.

Besides writing for Elite Sports New York as Managing Editor, Dan Federico a Featured Writer for Bleacher Report and an Editor and Contributor for The Sportster. Based just outside of New York City, Dan is an avid fan of all things New York sports and professional wrestling. Dan Federico is a senior writer for Elite Sports NY. You can interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email.