Watson was a consistent hitter and a dependable team player who, though signed as a catcher, caught only 10 major league games. He played mostly the outfield for Houston until 1975, when he took over at first base for Lee May, who had been traded. He batted a career-high .324 that year and topped the .300 mark in six of his 11 seasons as a regular. In 1976, he scored the one millionth run in ML baseball history. He drove in more than 100 runs in both 1976 and 1977 and was the Astros’ all-time leader in hits and RBI when traded to Boston in June 1979.
Helped by the DH rule, Watson had a late-career renaissance in the American League. On September 15, 1979, he became the first ML player to hit for the cycle in both leagues (he did so in the NL in 1977). He signed as a free agent with the Yankees for 1980 and excelled in postseason play. In 1981 he tied a record by homering in his first World Series plate appearance; the three-run shot boosted the Yankees to a 5-3 Game One victory over the Dodgers.