Bob Watson, a former Houston Astros star and the first black general manager to win a World Series title in MLB history, died on Thursday night after a long battle with a kidney disease, his son announced on Twitter.
He was 74.
Watson played 19 seasons in the league himself from 1966-84, most notably with the Astros, as an outfielder and first baseman. He also spent time with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, earning two All-Star nods.
He served as the Astros’ general manager from 1993-95 before holding the same post with the Yankees for two seasons. While in New York, Watson helped lead the Yankees to a World Series win in 1996 — which made him the first black general manager in MLB history to do so.
He later worked as the league’s vice president of on-field operations for eight years before retiring in 2010.
“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. He was an All-Star on the field and a true pioneer off it, admired and respected by everyone he played with or worked alongside.
“Bob will be missed, but not forgotten.”
Watson has had multiple health issues in retirement, according to the New York Daily News, including both circulatory problems and hypertension, before he started suffering from kidney failure.
“Both my kids offered to donate kidneys,” Watson told the Daily News in 2018, “and I told them both the same thing: ‘I’ve had a good life and I don’t want to take a kidney from young people who really need them and still have their whole lives ahead of them.’
“That would be very selfish on my part.”
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