Pete Rose & The Stick

BRONX, NY – I was watching an interview with the MLB Hit King, Pete Rose the other day when my thoughts went to the ex- Yankees player, coach, manager, executive – Gene Michael. The late Co-Chairman, Hank Steinbrenner, always sought out Michael when it came to talent on the field. Hank valued Michael’s opinion to no end. When Hank’s dad, George, wanted to trade a rookie pitcher named Mariano Rivera to the Seattle Mariners for shortstop Felix Fermin, Michael vetoed the deal. Even going as far as fibbing to the Boss that Seattle wasn’t interested. The Boss didn’t feel that a rookie named Derek Jeter was ready to handle the shortstop duties. Michael’s vision of the future saw otherwise, and the rest is history. Rose’s impact on everyone he comes across had an effect on even a baseball lifer like Michael.

It was February of 2017 when I last saw Michael and the memory will stay with me forever. Rose was being re -inducted into the Ted Williams Hitters Museum, which was located inside of Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Before the ceremonies, Rose did an autograph signing for the attendees. There were other ex-players also signing but Rose’s line was the longest.

In walks Michael and he asks me if Rose showed up. I pointed to the line and said, “That’s for him.” Michael couldn’t believe the length of the line and let it be known that he would love to say hi to Rose. My response was, “Follow me, I’ll take you right to him.”

Michael was such a gentleman that he didn’t feel comfortable cutting through the line of autograph seekers. He responded, “No it wouldn’t be fair, maybe next time.” I told him, “There is no next time, next time is now, just follow me.” Michael gingerly walked behind me when he started to shy away again. “No it’s okay, too many people are waiting” he said. I looked into his eyes and shouted, “Stop being a wimp and keep walking.”

As we got closer to Rose, Michael was getting cold feet again. He blurted, “Maybe we better not he looks too busy.” Rose’s eyes were glued to the items he was signing when I shouted over to him, “Yo Pete, Yo Pete!” Rose kept his head down as he signed away. He then suddenly shouted the words, “What, what, I hear you!” Michael’s face had a look of nervousness, while thinking that he just ticked Pete off.

I then shouted, “Gene Michael wants to say, ‘hi.’” Michael’s face spelled total embarrassment until Rose shouted back towards us. The Stick wants to say hi, where’s the Stick?” “Right here,” I screamed back, and he made his way towards The Stick.

Michael’s face at that moment looked like he just got the lottery results that matched his ticket. Rose hugged him and engaged him for about five minutes. Michael was gleaming as he put his arm around my shoulders and said, “I don’t care what they say about you, you’re a great guy.”

My eyes darted towards Michael, and I shouted out, “What the f*ck are they saying about me?” He laughed and patted me on the back while saying, “You Da Man!” Michael had a strut in his step and a glee across his face, which was created by Rose’s acknowledgment towards him.

Michael’s look of fear towards being embarrassed of Rose responding, Gene who?, when I informed him that, Gene Michael wanted to say hello, was put at ease when he heard the words, “The Stick.”

Eugene Richard Michael, known as “Stick,” passed away that September of a heart attack.

Aristostle “Mugsy” Sakellaridis

I smile at the impact Rose made on him when I practically pushed him towards the Hit King. I also smile at the thought that somewhere up above Stick is looking down with George and Hank Steinbrenner, disgusted by the leadership that’s going on in Da Bronx.

That’s it for me, comment below and come back tomorrow for Jacob Sternberg.

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About Aristotle "Mugsy" Sakellaridis 132 Articles
Aristotle "Mugsy" Sakellaridis is the junkiest of baseball junkies. He plays in 4 leagues, well past his 40th birthday, and spends the winter in Florida shagging flies at Yankees minor league complexes. He's also a retired Riker's Island Corrrection Officer - having worked the night shift for 20+ years.