Gene "Stick" Michael, the New York Yankees executive who helped build the club's late-1990s dynasty teams, died Thursday of a heart attack, the team announced on its website. He was 79.
Michael served as Yankees manager in 1981 and 1982, and as their general manager from 1990 to 1995.
During his time as GM, he restocked the farm system and built the Core Four of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada via the draft or free agency. He also traded for Paul O'Neill to shape the group that helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
RIP Stick. The Yankees mourn the passing of Gene Michael. pic.twitter.com/ORnP0Sr99w— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 7, 2017
"I am heartbroken by Stick's passing," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. "He was both a friend and a mentor to me, and I relied upon his advice and guidance throughout my career. He did it all in this industry -- player, coach, manager, general manager and scout -- and his knowledge base was second to none. My condolences go out to his family, friends and all those he touched throughout his lifetime in the game. I will miss him."
Jeter also praised Michael.
"Gene Michael was not only largely responsible for the success of the Yankees organization, but also for my development as a player," Jeter said in a statement. "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."
O'Neill tweeted his condolences as well.
So sorry to hear about Gene Michael Thank you for giving me the best opportunity of my life: playing for the Yankees...you will be missed!!!— Paul O'Neill (@PaulONeillYES) September 7, 2017
"I was saddened to learn of the passing of Gene Michael, a baseball man to his core and an important part of the New York Yankees for decades," commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement later Thursday. "In many different capacities, Gene played a pivotal role in shaping great baseball careers on and off the field. We appreciate his many contributions to the National Pastime."
Michael earned the nickname Stick from his playing days when he was 6-foot-2 and about 180 pounds. A slick-fielding infielder, he hit just .229 with 15 home runs in 10 seasons. Twelve were with the Yankees from 1968-74, one of the worst eras in team history.
Michael also managed the Chicago Cubs in 1986 and 1987. His career record as a manager was 206-200.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.