Bob Watson, a former two-time All-Star as a player who in 1996 became the first black general manager to win a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1996, has died. He was 74.
Watson spent the first 14 seasons of his career with the Houston Astros. He passed away on Thursday from kidney disease, according to his son.
“This is a very sad day for the Astros and for all of baseball,” the team said in a statement. “Bob Watson enjoyed a unique and remarkable career in Major League Baseball that spanned six decades, reaching success at many different levels, including as a player, coach, general manager and MLB executive.”
“The Bull” made the NL All-Star team in 1973 and 1975, hit over .300 on four different occasions and hit over 100 RBI twice. On the field, he made history when he became the first player to hit for the cycle in both the American and National Leagues, first with the Astros in 1977 and Boston in 1979.
He first became general manager of the Astros in 1993 and in 1996, he stewarded the New York Yankees front office when the team won the first of three titles they would win in the late 1990s. He also memorably played himself in The Bad News Bears In Breaking Training, which was filmed at the Astrodome. In one key scene he tells the Bears, “Hey c’mon, let the kids play!”
“He was an All-Star on the field and a true pioneer off of it, admired and respected by everyone he played with or worked alongside,” the Astros’ statement said. “Bob will be missed, but not forgotten.”
The Astros honored Watson earlier this year by dedicating the Bob Watson Education Center at the Astros Youth Academy to him.
He is survived by his wife, Carol; daughter Kelley; and son, Keith.