Owner George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, making his second managerial change of the season, fired Gene Michael last night and named Clyde King interim manager.
Michael was hired for his second tour as Yankee manager on April 25, succeeding Bob Lemon, who had been promised by Steinbrenner he could finish the season.
The firing was the ninth managerial change since Steinbrenner bought the club in 1973.
Michael had a 44-42 record in 86 games since taking over from Lemon, but two losses to the Chicago White Sox last night, the second by a 14-2 score, left the Yankees at 50-50 and in fifth place in the American League East.
Steinbrenner said King is taking the manager's job "reluctantly but willingly" as a favor to the owner.
"I just feel a change was necessary," Steinbrenner said. "Sometimes you wish you could let go a lot of players instead of the manager. But that's not the way this game is structured. Some players on this team are not as good as they think they are."
Steinbrenner said he hoped Michael, who served as general manager of the team from Nov. 1, 1979, until he was named manager the first time, would rejoin the front office. Steinbrenner did not say what role he had in mind for Michael but said, "It won't be just a token role."
King has been a member of the Yankee organization since 1976 in a variety of roles. He will be in uniform as field manager Wednesday night for another doubleheader against Chicago at Yankee Stadium.
King began this season as an advance scout and was named pitching coach on June 11. On July 19, King moved into a special assignment role in the front office when Sammy Ellis was named pitching coach.
Michael became the field manager at the start of the strike-disrupted 1981 season but was fired on September 6 after a public dispute with Steinbrenner. He was succeeded by Lemon, who managed the team through the balance of last season, the two rounds of the AL playoffs and the loss in the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During the doubleheader, Steinbrenner, apparently upset with his team's play, had an announcement made over the public address system at Yankee Stadium, offering fans there free tickets to six other games later this year. The White Sox won the opener, 1-0; in the second game, reliever George Frazier yielded 11 hits and 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings.