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Scouting colleagues salute late Gene Michael

Yankees scout Gene Michael, right, watches batting practice with

Yankees scout Gene Michael, right, watches batting practice with manager Joe Torre, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007, at Legends Field in Tampa, Florida. Credit: AP / Robert F. Bukaty

BALTIMORE — Tom Giordano said Gene Michael was without peer when it came to evaluating players, echoing the prevailing opinion in the scouting community about the Yankees executive, who passed away Thursday morning.

“I don’t know of anybody in this game, honestly, that ever had anything, in any way, derogatory to say about him as a person or as a baseball man,” said Giordano, 91, a special assistant for the Braves who is in his 70th year in organized baseball. “Everyone I know respected him as I did, and do.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who grew close to Michael during his time with the Yankees, called him “the best baseball guy I ever saw.”

Longtime executive and talent evaluator Wayne Krivsky said Michael had “a Hall of Fame resume.”

“This guy, he did everything in the game,” said Krivsky, a onetime general manager of the Reds and assistant GM of the Twins. “Such a well-rounded, versatile baseball man . . . I wish I had had the opportunity to work with him.”

Krivsky said the scouts’ section typically would buzz when Michael, whom Yankees GM Brian Cashman often used for special assignments, arrived at a park.

“When I saw him in the ballpark, I was always like, ‘OK, what’s up? Who’s he looking at?’ ” Krivsky said. “It was like, ‘All right, I need to pick up my game tonight.’ ”

Billy Scherrer, a scout and White Sox special assistant, got to know Michael over the last 15 seasons while scouting the Yankees during spring training. He mentioned, as several other scouts did, that Michael was known for almost never bringing a radar gun to the ballpark. Instead, Michael would say, “What did you get there?”

Giordano laughed while telling a similar story, saying, “And everyone would give it to him.”

Scherrer admiringly called Michael a “Huckleberry Hound,” saying he would ask basic questions of other scouts in the stands, “the kind of questions a first-year scout would ask.”

“But he was smart as a cat,” Scherrer said. “You knew he knew so much more than he let on. He’d strip your mind. He would end up taking everybody else’s evaluation to go with whatever was already in his mind, which was a lot.

“He was just a unique guy. His baseball mind and his knowledge was something that will be sorely missed, something the Yankees will miss . . . Once you had a chance to meet him and talk to him, you couldn’t wait to see him again. You always looked forward to seeing Stick.”

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