Monday, April 10, 2006

April 10th, 1946

Bob Watson Born

When I was doing my piece on mediocre players turned quality GMs the other day, I was originally going to include another GM with good success, Bob Watson. Watson was the architect of the 1996 Yankee championship team, and the 1998 team that might be the greatest ever was partially his as well. I ended up not including him in part because of the timeline doesn't really fit but largely because Watson was not really a mediocre player.

Actually, that's quite unfair. Watson is one of the best fifty first basemen of all time, while the players/GMs in that list aren't the top fifty anything of all-time. Watson's raw numbers aren't anything special (.295/.364/.447) but when viewed in the context his park and era--Watson played most of his career in the Astrodome in the 60s and 70s--he was pretty good. Watson was putting OPS over .800 at the time when the park average was under .700. As a player, Watson was probably best known for scoring baseball's millionth run, a feat which earned him both a million pennies (they went to charity) and a million Tootsie Rolls (to a Houston Boys and Girls club).

Watson was the first African-American GM, and the first to win a World Series; he was responsible for putting together the United States' gold medal winning team in the Sydney Olympics, and has been announced as filling the same role for the 2008 Beijing games. Watson's day job is as Major League Baseball Vice President for Rules and On-Field Discipline, so next time you hear about someone being suspended, that's Bob’s doing.

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