Bob Watson, the long-time major leaguer who later was a coach, a general manager, and an MLB vice-president, passed away yesterday. Watson, who had been battling kidney cancer, was 74.
Watson had a 19 year major league career, debuting with a plate appearance for the Houston Astros as a 20 year old in 1966, and finishing his career with a 49 game stint as a bench bat for the Atlanta braves in 1984.
In between, Watson, who spent the bulk of his career with the Astros, put up a .295/.364/.447 line as a first baseman and left fielder, appearing in a pair of All Star games and finishing as high as 11th (in 1976) in the National League MVP balloting. Watson also spent time with the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, and put up a 1021 OPS in 26 plate appearances for the Yankees in the 1981 World Series.
After his playing career was over, Watson was the hitting coach for the Oakland A’s from 1984-88 before joining the Houston Astros front office as an assistant general manager from 1988-93. Watson was g.m. for the Astros from 1993-95, then the g.m. for the Yankees from 1995-97.
Watson finished his baseball career in the MLB offices, where he was Vice President of Rules and On-Field Operations.
Watson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994, which led him to become a spokesman for early detection efforts.