Bob Watson, who served as Yankees GM from October of 1995 to February of 1998, has died at the age of 74.
At the helm during the Yankees' 1996 World Series victory over the Atlanta Braves, Watson became the first African American GM to win a World Series.
Prior to becoming Yankees GM, Watson worked in the same capacity for the Houston Astros starting in 1993 after a stint as the hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics.
Watson was a two-time All-Star during his 19-year playing career with the Astros, Braves, Yankees, and Boston Red Sox.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement Friday morning regarding Watson's death.
"Bob Watson was a highly accomplished figure in our National Pastime and a deeply respected colleague for those of us at Major League Baseball. 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 Yankees. He then oversaw 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.
The Yankees also issued a team statement, as well as one from GM Brian Cashman:
Yankees team statement:
"Bob Watson was a devoted and deeply respected steward to the game of baseball who left an indelible mark on a countless number of people and organizations during his lifetime of service to our national pastime. His groundbreaking contributions are forever woven into Yankees history, as Bob was the general manager and a chief engineer in the construction of our 1996 World Series championship team, which ushered in one of baseball's all-time greatest dynasties. Beyond Bob's success and accomplishments as a player, coach and executive, he was a man of great character, warmth and decency and will be remembered as someone who was able to reach the pinnacle of his vocation while remaining true to his values and principles.
We share in his family's loss, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Carol, their daughter, Kelley, and son, Keith."
Statement from Brian Cashman:
"Bob was a gentle giant. He was an incredibly kind person, and a mentor whom I looked up to and admired. He shared his wealth of experiences and deep knowledge of the game freely and with everyone he came in contact with, and I was one of those beneficiaries. Bob is the reason Joe Torre became manager of the New York Yankees, and the two of them were instrumental in creating a winning culture that led to remarkable achievement. I'm so proud that I had the opportunity to work for someone like Bob Watson. All of his life's successes are richly deserved.
My deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Carol, their two children, and all of his extended family and friends. Bob was a tremendous man, and he will be missed."