Saturday, August 20, 2016


The Yankees recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1996 World Series. Among the guest present were the Core Four, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. It was a great day, but how many people noticed that a key person to that team was missing? Probably not many of you. It's strange that a name like Bob Watson isn't more common.

So, who is Bob Watson? If you're an Astros fan, you'll remember him as a former power-hitting first baseman. This was back in the late 60's, when hitting homers out of the Astrodome was an incredible feat, considering how difficult it actually was. He played in Houston for 14 years, before being traded to Boston in 1979. He went on to play for the Yankees, and the Braves, ending his 19-year career in 1984.

Watson also became the player to score MLB's one millionth run. The New York Daily News had a write up about it for the 40th anniversary (HERE). On May 4th, 1975, he ran home, and into a bit of obscure baseball lore. He was the first player to hit for the cycle in both the National league (with the Astros in 1977), and the American league (with the Red Sox in 1979).  He later became the first African-American General Manager in Major League Baseball, when Drayton McLane of the Astros gave him the position. And, in 1996, he became the first African-American General Manager to win a World Series, when he did it with the Yankees.

We all remember Gene Michael as the man behind the Core Four and Bernie Williams (because Bernie was in a class of his own READ HERE). And it seems like Brian Cashman has been General Manager since the dawn of time, some days. But Watson is the man responsible for trading for Tino Martinez, and Joe Girardi. He also brought on Cecil Fielder. Most ironically, Watson is the man who told us to trust that we would come to love "Clueless Joe," Joe Torre, when he made Torre Manager. 

"I can understand why Yankee fans are upset because Buck (Showalter) was a popular man," said Bob Watson in November 1995. "But Yankee fans also should give Joe Torre time to prove what  he can do."

"Believe me, he'll win them over."

The New York Daily News remembered their 1995 interview with Watson this week. Watson, who told us to give Torre a chance, and who revamped the face of the Yankees from 1995 to 1996, making us the unlikely underdog in the 1996 season played a pivotal role in what was our first Championship in 18 years. He went on to serve as MLB vice president in charge of discipline and vice president of rules and on-field operations. He stirred the pot a little in 2007 when, what he called, "The Francona" rule was put in place. Basically, MLB managers would no longer be able to wear team pullovers to games. They would have to wear their team uniforms. A style Terry Francona was known for.

He is also battling stage 4 kidney failure.

"I really wanted to be there," Watson told the New York Daily News,"but my health won't allow it. I am battling Stage 4 kidney failure. Not too many people know about it."

All the baseball stats seem moot. A man is battling for his life. But, I don't know... I feel like if I mention Bob Watson's name, I shouldn't get a blank stare in return. Baseball fans, especially Yankees fans, should know who he is. I don't expect people to prattle off stats at the drop of the hat. But... I mean, c'mon guys! He was the first to hit for the cycle in both leagues and MLB's 1 millionth run! He was the first African-American General Manager in MLB history and the first African-American General manager to win a World Series. At least give me that. Maybe I'm a little bit sensitive about it. The Dynasty Era was my era. And yes, Gene played a hand in that too. But give Watson his credit. He earned it!

Watson is very ill. He does 7 hours of dialysis, 3 times a week. He has kept it private, until now. And while it's important to take that into consideration, and send him well wishes, it's also important to remember the man for his accomplishments. After all, long after we are gone from this earth, all there will be left of us is the stories. And if you get to leave behind a legacy like Watson's, it should not be forgotten, and buried under the mounds of baseball lore.

The Bleeding Yankee Blue writers and family send our thoughts and well wishes to Bob, and his family during this time.

Erica Morales
BYB Senior Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter
: @e_morales1804

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