Bob Watson, Major League Baseball’s Vice President of Rules and On-Field Operations, has announced his retirement from baseball at the end of the current year after serving more than 45 years in the game as a player, coach and executive.
Watson will continue to assist with MLB’s Urban Youth Academy program and be available for special projects.
In his role at Major League Baseball, Watson oversees player discipline for infractions on the field, the pace of game program, uniform policy, stadium configurations and other on-field matters.
Prior to joining MLB in 2002, Watson served as General Manager of the Houston Astros from 1994-95 and the New York Yankees from 1996-97. With New York in 1996, Watson guided the franchise to its first World Series appearance since 1981 and first World Championship since 1978, becoming the game’s first African American General Manager to win a World Series Championship.
Watson has also served USA Baseball as Chairman of the Selection Committee and General Manager of Professional Baseball Operations, in which he was responsible for the selection of professional coaching staffs and players, as well as the team’s competitive preparations, including training and exhibition games. During his tenure with USA Baseball, Watson helped to construct many successful teams, including the Gold Medal-winning team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia; the Gold Medal-winning team at the 2007 World Cup in Taipei City, Taiwan; the Bronze Medal-winning team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China; and the Gold Medal-winning team at the 2009 World Cup in Europe.
“Bob has had a remarkable career, both on and off the field,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “He has been a valued member of the baseball community for parts of six decades, and he has represented his clubs, his country and the game of baseball with class. I’d like to wish Bob well in his retirement and thank him for his years of leadership and dedication to our game.”
Watson, who grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles, graduated from Fremont High School and attended Harbor Junior College in Wilmington, California. He was originally signed by the Astros as a free agent at the age of 19 in 1965, and spent 19 seasons in the Majors as a first baseman and outfielder with the Astros (1966-1979), Boston Red Sox (1979), Yankees (1980-1982) and Atlanta Braves (1982-1984).
A two-time All-Star, Watson became the first player in Major League history to hit for the cycle in both leagues, and he is credited with scoring the one millionth run in baseball history. In 1,832 career games, Watson hit .295 with 184 home runs and 989 RBI. Following his playing career, he spent four seasons as a coach and instructor for the Oakland Athletics before joining Houston as Assistant General Manager following the 1988 season.
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