Gene Michael, who built Yankees’ 1990s champions, dies at 79

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Yankees shortstop, manager and executive Gene Michael has died at 79.

The team says he had a heart attack and died Thursday.

Michael was a slick-fielding infielder who went on to manage the Yankees. Later, as a front-office executive under George Steinbrenner, he built a team that won four World Series titles in five years.

At 6-foot-2 and about 180 pounds in his playing days, Michael was nicknamed Stick. He hit .229 with 15 home runs in 10 seasons. Seven were with the Yankees from 1968-74, one of the worst eras in team history.

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He made a far bigger impact during two terms as manager and two as general manager. He helped assemble the Derek Jeter-led clubs that won World Series titles in 1996 and from 1998 to 2000. He remained a key adviser to current general manager Brian Cashman.