John Reaves Watson was born on October 16th 1896 in Arizona, Louisiana. The six foot one right handed pitcher attended Baylor University at Waco Texas. He is one of forty MLB players to play for the Baylor Bears. Watson earned the nickname "Mule" by the time he got to the big leagues where he debuted with Connie Macks Philadelphia Athletics in 1918.
That year he twice pitched complete games in both ends of a double header. On the year he was 7-10 as both starter & reliever in 21 games. He moved on to the Boston Braves playing there from 1920-1923, having his best year in 1921. On August 13th 1921 Watson pitched both ends of a double header, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in both games. In the second game he pitched a two hit shut out. That year he won a career high 14 games (14-13) pitching 259 innings (8th most in the NL) with a 3.77 ERA in 31 starts (9th most in the NL).
In June of 1923 he was traded to the New York Giants along with Hank Gowdy for Jesse Barnes & Earl Smith. Watson went from the seventh place Braves to the first place New York Giants. He arrived in time to win two straight pennants in his final two pitching seasons. He made his first Giants start on July 3rd and won his first two games. Watson went 6-2 through August for New York, then lost three straight before winning his final two decisions of the year. He went 8-5 for the Giants behind a staff of Jack Scott (16-7) Hugh McQuillan (15-14) & two thirteen game winners Art Nehf & Jack Bently.
Post Season: In the 1923 World Series he got the start in Game #1 but was roughed up for three runs getting removed after two innings. The Giants did go on to a 5-4 victory but lost the series.
In 1924 he would go 7-4 in the regular season pitching in 22 games while making 16 starts.
Post Season: In the 1924 World Series against the Washington Senators, Watson made just one appearance. He came in the top of the 9th inning of Game #3 at the Polo Grounds with one out & the bases loaded. He retired the final two batters, saving the game for New York. The Senators would win the Series in seven games.
Watson did not pitch again for two years, assuming an injury or illness shut him down. He pitched minor league ball from 1925-1927 but never got back to the big leagues. In his seven year career he was 50-53 with four saves & a 4.03 ERA in 178 appearances.
Trivia: In the 2011 World Series the stat came up that Texas' David Murphy was the first player from Baylor to play in a World Series since Mule Watson. Tim McCarver commented Mule? Joe Buck then added " could he hit the slider, Tim" McCarver replied "he was a horse".