Prominent in the baseball circles of his time but now forgotten, Bill Watkins spent more than 30 years as a player, manager, front-office executive, and owner of various major and high minor-league teams. His playing career short-circuited by a near-fatal beaning in 1884, Watkins thereafter assumed the manager’s post for the Detroit Wolverines and within three years transformed that National League doormat into the baseball world champions of 1887. During his heyday, however, Watkins was most often associated with Indianapolis, serving no fewer than eight baseball organizations established in the Indiana capital. Finally leaving the diamond scene in the early 1920s, Watkins – a Canadian by birth – spent his remaining years as the leading citizen of Marysville, Michigan, a community about 60 miles northeast of Detroit that Watkins himself helped to found.
A naturalized American citizen since 1897, he was also active in civic matters, particularly after taking up residence in Marysville, a fledgling nearby community that he helped to establish. In 1919 Watkins served as the first president of the village of Marysville, and thereafter chaired the committee that upgraded its municipal status to that of a city. Simultaneously, Watkins maintained his interest in baseball. He declined an offer to return as Indianapolis Indians manager in 1918, but took keen interest in the local game. He was a financial backer of the Port Huron Saints of the Class B Michigan-Ontario League, and served as club president in 1921-1922.
In appreciation for his support, Saints home games and those Port Huron High School were played at a downtown Port Huron field named in Watkins’ honor. It was located on the corner of Moak and 24th and teams played there from 1920 to 1943. Watkins Field was razed in the early 1940s.
Excerpt taken from article by BIll Lamb. Read full bio here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/c568f927