Michael began his sports career as a pitcher at Northwood High School in Silver Spring in 1964. He received a scholarship to pitch at the University of Maryland playing on the freshman team in 1966 and the varsity team from 1967-68. In 1968, Michael had a 5-0 record with a .69 era, which remains a Maryland record to this day. He also holds the Maryland record for striking out 18 batters against Duke in 1968. Michael was named All-ACC and All-American.
In the 1968 draft, he was drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Orioles and was the 30th player chosen and the first among college pitchers. He was invited to one Oriole big league camp and was one of the last players cut. Michael played minor league baseball for a variety of teams, including the Miami Marlins in the Florida State League in 1968 where he had an 8-3 record and a 1.29 era. In 1969, he played AAA ball in the International League for the Rochester Red Wings under manager Cal Ripken Sr. From 1970-71, Michael played AA ball in the Texas League for the Dallas-Ft Worth Spurs and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1972. He continued to play baseball, playing for the Evansville Triplets in 1972 and 1973 and pitching in the AAA World Series in Hawaii in 1972.