Bob Watson, the GM who helped build the Yankees 1996 World Series team, dead at 74
Bob Watson, who served as Yankees general manager and helped put together the 1996 World Series-winning team, has died. He was 74.
His death was announced on Thursday night by the Houston Astros, the team Watson played for for his first 14 seasons in the major leagues.
Watson’s son Keith wrote on Twitter that his father died in Houston after a long battle with kidney disease.
“He still the only executive with a gold medal ring (as chairman of USA Baseball’s selection committee for the 2000 Olympics) and a World Series ring (as general manager of the 1996 Yankees) and I think that more than anything else speaks to who he is and how he feels about his place in the pantheon of professional baseball," Watson’s son wrote.
The two-time All-Star played for the Yankees from 1980-82 during a playing career that lasted 19 seasons and also included time with the Braves and Red Sox.
He became the GM of the Bronx Bombers in 1995 and hired Joe Torre to be New York’s manager. The Yankees ended a long title drought in 1996.
Watson retired after the 1997 season setting the stage for current GM Brian Cashman to take over the club.
He was the first black GM to win a World Series.
He later worked in the league offices until 2010, including as MLB’s vice president in charge of discipline.
“This is a very sad day for the Astros and for all of baseball,” the Astros 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."
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called Watson a “groundbreaking executive” in a statement released Friday morning.
“Bob Watson was a highly accomplished figure in our National Pastime and a deeply respected colleague for those of us at Major League Baseball,” Manfred said.