Gene Michael, RIP: The big Stick

Paul O'Neill (far left) and Gene Michael (next to O'Neill) with, from left, head trainer Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada, when O'Neill---for whom Michael dealt to begin building the Yankees' 1996-2000 dynasty---was presented his Monument Park plaque.

Paul O’Neill (far left) and Gene Michael (next to O’Neill) with, from left, head trainer Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada, when O’Neill—for whom Michael dealt to begin building the Yankees’ 1996-2000 dynasty—was presented his Monument Park plaque.

You could say the Yankees’ fabled Core Five dynasty wouldn’t have happened if Gene Michael—the Yankee general manager who was inadvertently allowed to build it, and who died of a heart attack 7 September at 79—hadn’t had something in common with Phil Rizzuto, other than being Yankee shortstops a couple of generations apart.

Posada, Retiring with Tearful Grace

When Gil McDougald, the jack-of-all-trades infielder for the 1950s Yankees, died toward the end of 2010, I couldn’t resist finishing my tribute to him by citing a memorable observation from Bill James, who recalled McDougald’s being picked by the embryonic Los Angeles Angels as part of their expansion draft class:

When the Angels acquired the rights to draft McDougald for their inaugural, expansion roster, and offered him the highest salary he might yet earn as a player, McDougald balked. Even though they planned to make him a regular; even though they would play their first American League season in a bandbox park (Wrigley Field, formerly the home of the minor league Los Angeles Angels) that might have enabled him to hit the long ball the way he never could (112 lifetime, 83 on the road, a mere 29 in Yankee Stadium) in The ‘Stripes.