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My moment in “Stick’s box”

On the most recent New York Yankees homestand, our own Keith McPherson, one half of the George’s Box podcastย (subscribe, rate and review please!) got the opportunity to meet the Cash Gawd, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, in Cash’s Box. In case you missed it, check out Keith’s Instagram and or Twitter feed, @Keith_Mcpherson or listen to the podcast on Keith’s encounter and interaction with Cashman.

It was really cool to hear about Keith’s experience and how Cashman and Yankees assistant general manager Michael Fishman read the site.

The exchange also brought me back to a chance meeting I had with another legendary Yankee general manager, the late great Gene “Stick” Michael.

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This was in the summer of 1994, the last year the Yankees housed their Double-A prospects in Albany. During the strike in August 1994 “Stick,” manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Billy Connors were scouting the Albany-Colonie Yankees and sitting in box seats behind home plate at Heritage Park.

A 10-year-old kid, naturally I was excited and my younger brother and I were eager to meet them and hock for some autographs too. A year earlier Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, came to watch prospects from the home first base dugout, no autographs for us but my brother brushed up against Reggie’s jacket as he walked out from the clubhouse to the field, just ask him, he’ll tell you.

Much like the big ballpark in the Bronx, even those box seats were well guarded by ushers but we were cunning, determined and picked our spot. Hell, during a grand opening of the old Nobody Beats The Wiz at Crossgates Mall near Albany, I darted and cut in line for an autograph from legendary New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, ah the things you can get away with as a kid but I digress.

Between innings, the ushers weren’t looking and we made our move to the box seats. Hello Mr. Michael, hello Mr. Showalter (who once managed A-C to an Eastern League crown with a young Bernie Williams in 1989) and hello Mr. Connors (a Schenectady, N.Y. native). They were all very nice, signed for us, we thanked them and sheepishly told the ushers we weren’t sitting down there and went back to our seats.

Oh but there’s more.

Russell Davis, a power-hitting third base prospect, who had lightning quick wrists (think Clint Fraizer legendary bat speed) and earned Eastern League MVP honors in 1992, was one of my favorite players. My dad urged me to go back down and ask “Stick” to not trade Russ Davis.

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So, I went back down to the box seats and our short conversation went as such: Me: “Mr. Michael?” Stick: “Yes?” Me: “Please don’t trade Russ Davis?” Stick: “OK kid.” He said with an endearing chuckle, entertaining roster moves from yours truly, the 10-year-old amateur GM.

It was such a cool moment having his ear and that interaction if for only a fleeting moment. I was thrilled with his response too and it felt so genuine and even looking back at how protective he was of Bernie and the “Core Four” guys, among other prospects, he probably meant it.

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Of course, after “Stick” was fired from his GM post following the 1995 season, Davis was shipped to Seattle in the Tino Martinez deal, which worked out pretty well.

Months later the World Series would be canceled and I lost my favorite childhood team as they moved to Norwich, CT but that moment and a chance meeting with “Stick” is a memory that for me will last a lifetime.