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Bob Watson (1946–2020), first black MLB general manager to win a World Series

by Linnea Crowther

Bob Watson was a Major League Baseball player and general manager who became, with the New York Yankees in 1996, the first black general manager to win a World Series.

MLB playing career

Watson’s major league debut was in 1966 with the Houston Astros. He played most of his career with the team, remaining until 1979 and selected as an All-Star in 1973 and 1975. On May 4, 1975, Watson scored MLB’s one millionth home run while playing the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. He won $10,000 and one million Tootsie Rolls for the milestone. In 1977, Watson was among several Astros who made cameo appearances in “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” – it was Watson who delivered the line, “Hey c’mon, let the kids play!” Traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1979, Watson played a single season there before signing as a free agent with the New York Yankees. He made his sole World Series appearance with the Yankees, in 1981, before being traded to the Atlanta Braves in 1982. He finished his playing career with the Braves in 1984 with a career batting average of .295, 184 home runs, and 989 RIBs.

Coach, GM, and executive

After his playing career, Watson went on to coach for the Oakland A’s, then became MLB’s second black general manager when he was hired by the Astros in 1993. He moved on to become general manager for the Yankees in 1995, where he became the first black general manager to win a World Series in 1996. Watson later became MLB’s vice president in charge of discipline and vice president of rules and on-field operations. He was also active with the Baseball Assistance Team, which supports people affiliated with professional baseball who are in need of assistance.

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What people said about him

Full obituary: CNN

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