That's because right there, behind his left ear, Michael sports a cochlear implant -- an electronic device, half of which is surgically implanted in a patient's brain, which provides a digital sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.
But there was a time, when he was a 3-year-old with a near-fatal case of meningitis, when Karen and Jeff thought the fate of their son would be a lot worse than deafness.
And they never felt things would turn out as well as they have.
Despite not being able to hear if he takes the cochlear implant off, Michael, now 13, has been an A student his whole life, has never had to take a special-education class before, and he's a darn good baseball player.
Michael, a lefty, plays first base and pitches for Chet Lemon's Juice 12s from Orlando, Fla., in the National Youth Baseball Championships. This Sunday afternoon, his team is playing in the semifinals and hoping to compete in the championship later tonight.
At the moment, getting by a very good Norwalk Stingrays team and playing to win it all is the focus of his parents -- not trying to keep their son alive, or having him hear or even trying to make sure he isn't considered handicapped.
All of that has taken care of itself.
"The remarkable thing is, he's as normal as any other kid," said Jeff, an airline pilot. "He doesn't see himself any differently."
At age 3, Michael got really sick one day and, when rushed to the hospital, doctors realized he had bacterial meningitis -- a disease that usually kills those who contract it. Doctors were never able to figure out how Michael contracted the illness, but they did determine he was born without specific antibodies, which made it very difficult for his immune system to fight diseases.
Michael was in the hospital for a period of 16 days at that point, nearly unconscious and a pin cushion with IVs for most of that time. During his stay, doctors gave him near-toxic levels of antibodies to stop his illness.
The good news is they kept him alive. The bad news is Michael lost most of his hearing.
"Over the next couple of weeks, his hearing started to get worse and worse, and then, one night, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, I was staying at the hospital with him, and he looks over at me and said, 'Daddy, it's quiet in here,'" Jeff said. "And that's when we knew."
Jeff said he immediately went to worst-case scenario -- how his son would be looked at as handicapped, how he'd be held back at school, and how he'd never be a normal boy again.
Karen had a much more rational approach.
"You have to be relaxed," said Karen, currently a high school teacher in Bushnell, Fla. "We were faced with something that was life altering, and I kind of went on auto pilot."
Michael lost about 90 percent of his hearing almost overnight and, slowly over the course of the next year, he lost the other 10 percent. At that point, Michael became qualified for the cochlear implant, so he and his family packed up their bags and moved from Virginia to Florida so he could have the procedure done.
Jeff wanted him to get it a few months before he started kindergarten so he could hear in school. But using the device isn't an easy thing to grasp.
The cochlear implant sends digitized sounds, which are transmitted between two magnets -- one on the outside of his head, and the other implanted inside his skull. But the sounds he hears aren't like the typical speech others interpret. In fact, when Michael first turned it on and his mom said something to him to see if he could hear her, he said, "I hear you, mom, but it sounds like dogs barking."
To this day, Michael can't tell you what he hears. But over time, he's learned to interpret those digital sounds into words and, to him, it's like a different language.
"Eventually, he had to learn to turn those beeps, whistles and pops and bell sounds and dogs barking in his brain into actual words," said Jeff, whose son picked it up in less than two months and was able to start elementary school with hearing. "As far as he's concerned, he is hearing words because he's learned a new language.
"It's the same language he knew before, but he had to relearn it a different way.
Ever since that 16-day stint in the hospital, Michael has had to go back once a month for the last 10 years to get IV infusions. On top of that, in 2003, he had to get the internal component of his cochlear implant redone -- a rare occurrence -- because, one random day in school, he just stopped hearing again.
Other than that, and turning off his device when he doesn't want to hear his parents or sister nagging at him, Michael has been as normal as can be -- and then some.
He's been a standout student in school, dynamic on the baseball field, and he's got big plans for the future. He's already thinking about being the valedictorian of his high-school graduating class and, if baseball doesn't work out for him, he wants to be a lawyer.
As for being handicapped, his parents never let him use his hearing deficiency as a crutch. But he never thought it was, anyway.
"I've always seen myself as a normal person," said Michael, who's been playing baseball since he was 4 years old and cheers for the Atlanta Braves.
That's an interesting turn of events considering where he was at 10 years ago.
"I went from absolute worst-case scenario to where now, the only scenario is that he's as normal as anybody else," Jeff said. "Now, I don't consider how it will impact the future because he's able to overcome anything."