Bob Watson: Former All-Star, first black GM to win World Series dies at 74

Former Major League Baseball All-Star Bob Watson — who went on to become the first black general manager in history to win a World Series — has died. He was 74.

Watson died Thursday at his home in Houston after a long battle with kidney disease, according to the Houston Astros.

“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.”

Watson — nicknamed “The Bull” — made his MLB debut with the Astros on Sept. 9, 1966. He played for the franchise until he was traded in 1979. The two-time All-Star also suited up for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves during his 19-year MLB tenure. He hit .295 with 1,826 hits and 184 home runs in 1,832 games.

Watson became the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in both leagues when he hit a single, double, triple and home run in 1979 for the Red Sox.

He was inducted into the Astros Hall of Fame in January.

Watson became a hitting coach after he retired in 1984. He was hired as the Astros’ assistant general manager after the 1988 season. He became the franchise’s general manager after the 1993 season. Watson later took the same job with the Yankees and helped guide the storied franchise to a World Series title in 1996. He was the first black general manager to win a World Series title.

Watson went on to serve as MLB’s vice president of rules and on-field operations. Watson also worked for USA Baseball as chairman of the selection committee and general manager of professional baseball operations.

“He was an All-Star on the field and a true pioneer off of it, admired and respected by everyone he played with or worked alongside,” the Astros said. “Bob will be missed but not forgotten.”

Watson is survived by wife, Carol; daughter, Kelley; and son, Keith.

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