Bob Watson, a former All-Star with the Houston Astros who later won a world series with the New York Yankees, died on Thursday at the age of 74, the Astros announced. Watson led the Yankees to the World Series title in 1996, making him the first black general manager to reach that mark.
Watson's son said the former Astros star died from kidney disease. Shortly after the news of Watson's death, team owner chairman Jim Crane released a statement. "Bob Watson was a remarkable man, someone that was highly respected," Crane said. As a player, he was an All-Star and one of the best to ever wear an Astros uniform. As an executive, he was a groundbreaker, setting a shining example for all of us ... When I first met Bob, I asked him what he'd liked to do with the Astros. His reply was simply that he wanted to give back. Bob will be missed, but his legacy will live on, at our Astros Youth Academy, and beyond."
Watson began his baseball career with the Astros in 1966. He was named to the All-Star team in 1973 and 1975 and he's also the player that scored the 1 millionth run in MLB history, which occurred on May 4, 1975, against the San Francisco Giants. Watson played for the Astros for 14 seasons before being traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1979. He then signed with the New York Yankees in 1980 and was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 1982. He retired from the game after the 1984 season.
Watson was named general manager of the Astros after the 1993 season, becoming the second black GM in the major leagues. He was the Yankees GM from Oct. 23, 1995, to Feb. 2, 1998, and helped the team win the World Series in 1996, the team's first title since 1978. After the 1997 season, Watson became an MLB executive, serving as the vice president in charge of discipline and vice president and rules and on-field operations. He retired from his MLB duties in 2010.
"Bob Watson was a highly accomplished figure in our National Pastime and a deeply respected colleague for those of us at Major League Baseball," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was an All-Star during his 19-year Major League career and a groundbreaking executive in the front office."