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Robert Jose Watson (born April 10, in ) is a former first baseman for the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves from - , and currently serves as Major League Baseball's vice president of rules and on-field operations.

MLB career

Nicknamed "Bull," Watson was originally a catcher in the minor leagues, however, he converted to first base and the outfield by the time he made his major league debut with the Astros on September 9, . Watson was a dependable hitter whose home run numbers were somewhat hurt by the fact that he played the majority of his career in the Astrodomemarker.

Watson was credited with scoring the 1,000,000th run in major league history on May 4, at 12:32 in the afternoon. Watson scored from second base on a three-run homer by teammate Milt May at San Franciscomarker's Candlestick Parkmarker. It was known that the 999,999th run had already scored, with sponsored updates being provided by and to every ballpark. Despite the lack of in-game urgency, Watson ran at full speed, reaching home plate approximately four seconds before Dave Concepción, who had just homered in Cincinnati and was also racing around the basepaths. "I never ran so fast in my entire life," said Concepcion. But it was Watson who won $10,000 and one million Tootsie Rolls provided by the event's sponsor. The 1,000,000th run total only included runs scored in the National and American Leagues (not "3rd" major leagues, such as the Federal League). Watson joked that in the aftermath of the event, his fan mail doubled—from 4 letters to 8. Later, more accurate recalculations of baseball's record-keeping showed that neither Watson nor Concepcion scored baseball's actual millionth run, and it is not known who did.

On June 13, , Watson was traded to the Red Sox. His first season in Bostonmarker, he hit for the cycle on September 15. Having already hit for the cycle with the Astros in , he became the first player to accomplish this feat in both the National League and American League.

Following the season, he signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees. With the Yankees, he reached the post-season for the first time in his career, losing to the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 American League Championship Series. A year later, Watson reached the World Series for the only time in his career. Despite hitting two home runs and batting .319 with seven runs batted in, the Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

General Manager

At the end of the season, he was named general manager of the Houston Astros, becoming the first ever African American to serve as a GM in the major leagues. He served as GM for the New York Yankees from October 23, to February 2, . The team won the World Series, the first Yankee team to do so since .

MLB vice president of rules and on-field operations

After the season, Watson retired from the Yankees and now serves as Major League Baseball's vice president in charge of discipline and vice president of rules and on-field operations. He was under consideration for the Astros General Manager position, but the position was given to Ed Wade, the Philadelphia Phillies' former GM. Watson's chief assistant in his current position is Matt McKendry.

Watson drew criticism late in the season. Under his watch, Major League Baseball mandated that managers could no longer wear a team issued pullover instead of a uniform jersey top.

This caused particular friction between MLB and Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who prefers to wear a pullover due to circulation problems. During game action of the second inning of a Red Sox-Yankees game on August 28, an MLB representative was sent to verify that Francona was wearing a uniform jersey. The Boston media saw this as frivolous, or even biased, due to the public's indifference towards the issue, the specific use of Francona as an example, and the fact that the representative appeared during an important in-division matchup.

Prostate Cancer spokesman

Watson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March which was successfully treated. Watson writes about his experience with prostate cancer in his 1997 book Survive To Win and speaks regularly at cancer awareness conferences and with players and staff in Major League baseball. Watson's advocacy has been credited with detecting and treating many MLB personnel, including manager Joe Torre.

See also



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