#CardCorner: 1980 Topps Bob Watson
Hall of Fame staffers are also baseball fans and love to share their stories. Here is a fan's perspective from Cooperstown.
Living in Cooperstown, one never knows when one will run into a former major league star. It can happen at any time, in the Hall of Fame Library, at the corner of Main and Pioneer streets, or at the Otesaga Resort Hotel. One of those encounters happened to me at the latter location, back in the fall of 2010, when I was asked to conduct a village trolley tour for friends and family of the great Hank Aaron. The tour began at the front entrance to The Otesaga, a four-star hotel located at the base of Otsego Lake.
On this particular day, I was told that there would be no former major leaguers on the tour, so I was surprised by who I would soon meet. I did not see Aaron at the trolley—he decided to remain at the hotel—but I happened to run into another player, one who was an All-Star first baseman/outfielder and made a name for himself in the 1970s.
This player, a friend of “Hammerin’ Hank,” was standing right outside of the trolley door. I didn’t recognize him at first, but he did look vaguely familiar. I thought that he might be a retired player, but I could not place a name with the face. Then I saw someone approach him, exclaiming, “Hey, Bob.” At that moment, it popped into my head: Bob Watson. The face now jived with memories from some of my old baseball cards. He still had that strong, rounded build, the one that reminded me of his timeless nickname, “The Bull.”
A few minutes after my moment of recognition, Watson took his seat on the right side of the trolley, in the second row, well within my sights. Bob simply blended into the tour, politely asking questions like some of the other riders, but making no mention of his big league experience. He was apparently too modest to draw attention to himself. About midway through the tour, Billye Aaron, the exceedingly cordial wife of Mr. Aaron, pointed out that one of the trolley riders was indeed Bob Watson. She emphasized that Watson had not only played for the Atlanta Braves, Hank Aaron’s primary team, but had also become one of the game’s first African-American executives.