Bob Watson, the New York Yankees’ GM of the World Series-winning 1996 team, passes at 74

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees
Dec 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Yankees logo during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort . Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Watson, the general manager of the 1996 New York Yankees that were crowned world champions for the first time since 1978, passed away this Friday at 74 years old.

Per, the Houston Astros honored Watson at a reception at Minute Maid Park in 2017, and in 2020 dedicated the Bob Watson Education Center at their Urban Youth Academy. Those two occasions provided an opportunity for many of the people who admired him to reach out. One of them was former Yankees manager Joe Torre.

“He’s just a good man,” Torre said. “He’s honest. He cares a great deal. He has a passion for the game because he’s been in so many different aspects.”

Watson battled a long illness, and his body is finally resting in peace.

League statement

“Bob Watson was a highly accomplished figure in our National Pastime and a deeply respected colleague for those of us at Major League Baseball,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Friday morning. “He was an All-Star during his 19-year Major League career and a groundbreaking executive in the front office. Bob rose up to become general manager of the Astros in 1993 and made history as the first African American GM of a World Series champion with the 1996 New York Yankees. He then oversaw all on-field operations for the Commissioner’s Office and played a pivotal role in USA Baseball’s success internationally, including its Olympic Gold Medal in the 2000 Sydney Games.

“Bob was known for some of the unique moments of his generation, including scoring the millionth run in baseball history and a memorable role in The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training. But I will always remember the outstanding example that Bob set for others, his years of model service to the Baseball Assistance Team and the courage with which he met his health challenges in recent years. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife Carol, their children and his many friends and admirers across our game.”