High-Pressure Job Watson's Health Paying for the High Price of Yanks' Success

By Steve Jacobson 1997, Newsday | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

High-Pressure Job Watson's Health Paying for the High Price of Yanks' Success


Steve Jacobson 1997, Newsday, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Bob Watson had to watch what he ate. Carol Watson said she would not be a watchbird at the table, any more than she could find a place to sit in his office to see that he didn't get overwrought on the job.

General manager of That Man's Yankees is a high-blood pressure job.

The Arthur Ashe Foundation honored Watson with its award for leadership in health education at a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Tuesday night - not for surviving That Man but for surviving and speaking out about it so others might survive prostate cancer as he has. Watson spent a night last week at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center after feeling discomfort in his left shoulder. He was told that his blood pressure was even higher than it usually is and told what he had to do if he wanted to live. One should not think he would get a phone call of "How do you feel?" from his employer. That Man inquired of others around Watson, but calling him would be be a personal acknowledgement of an employee's humanity, which That Man does not do easily. Besides, That Man was preoccupied with the health and welfare of his horse at Churchill Downs. But Watson would not suggest that the man cared more about his animals than his people. Nor would he say that the blood pressure problem came with this job; after all, he brought high blood pressure with him, and he had it in his genes. But we know the circumstance of months of 100-plus hours on the job and the phone calls in the middle of the night. "I would have had this if I had worked in a steel mill; it's the way I'm made up," Watson said. "I'm a workaholic; I internalize. I need to do things differently." He needs to take off the 60 pounds he put on since he stopped playing, which a man can do. He needs to exercise often, which he can do. He needs to work fewer hours, which may be a contradiction in terms. "The word is, `I will,' " Watson said Tuesday. "I don't want to die because of the job." Now that puts it in concrete terms. He's 51 years old. How he's going to work fewer hours when there weren't enough hours in the day for what was demanded of nine previous general managers is yet to be seen. This boss is a demanding boss. "If there weren't erasers on pencils, he would like that because the margin for error would drop," Watson said. "Thank you? I think he thinks `Thank you' is in the paycheck - hiring you and keeping you." And about the get-well call, Watson didn't get so much as a "nice job" for his role in That Man's first championship since 1978, so why should he expect a health concern? Joe Torre made it clear enough that Watson stepped in front of a lot of arrows aimed at the manager in the grand season. Yankees general managers are so much foolscap to be scribbled on, crumpled and tossed aside. Watson is the 10th man in the chair in this owner's 23 years - not counting those who were in it more than once. Torre Tuesday night likened Yankee Stadium to Las Vegas. "There's no sense of having a clock on the wall," he said. "You never go home." It's not just the hours but the constant mindless abuse. It would be a killing job for anyone who could survive in it.

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