Tug McGraw

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Tug McGraw
Frank Edwin McGraw Jr.

Bats Right, Throws Left
Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.

Debut April 18, 1965
Born August 30, 1944 in Martinez, CA

Died January 5, 2004 in Nashville, Tennessee





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Article courtesy of:  www.tugmcgraw.com

Frank Edwin "Tug" McGraw, Jr., a colorful and inspirational relief pitcher with the New York Mets and Phillies, died at 4:45 p.m. today (CST) in Nashville, TN, after battling a malignant brain tumor that required surgery nine months ago.  He died with his family at his bedside.  He was 59.

Mr. McGraw coined the phrase "Ya gotta believe!" during the Mets' 1973 season and carried the slogan through his illness that was first detected after being hospitalized during spring training in Clearwater, FL, last March 12.  He was in his second year as a guest spring training pitching instructor with the Phillies when he was taken ill.

Mr. McGraw, who did things with a flair, broke into professional baseball by pitching a no-hitter for the Mets' Cocoa, FL, minor league team in 1964.  He made his major league debut the following year and ended his big league career after the Phillies' 1984 season.

During his nine-year career with the Mets, McGraw was on two World Championship teams, 1969 and 1973.

As a 30-year-old, he was acquired by the late Phillies general manager Paul Owens on December 3, 1974, for Del Unser, Mac Scarce and John Stearns.  The Phillies also received a pair of outfielders, Don Hahn and Dave Schneck, in the six-player deal.

"We were a young team that was starting to come together," recalled catcher Bob Boone, "but we didn't believe in ourselves.  Tug changed that with his arrival.  He brought that 'Ya gotta believe!' attitude."

While with the Phillies, Mr. McGraw was on teams that won Eastern Division titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978, the National League pennant in 1983 and the World Series in 1980.  The 1981 Phillies also reached post-season play during a strike-shortened season.  

Without Mr. McGraw, the Phillies would have never won their first World Series in 1980.  After coming off the disabled list on July 17 of that season because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, Mr. McGraw allowed just three earned runs the rest of the season in 52.1 innings.  He compiled an unbelievable 0.52 ERA during that span.

He recorded 11 of his 20 saves after July 31 and was 5-0 with five saves during the stretch run in September and October.

Mr. McGraw was the winner when the Phillies clinched the NL East title on Mike Schmidt's 11th-inning home run in Montreal, 6-4, over the Expos on October 4, 1980.  In dramatic fashion, he struck out the last Expos batter, Larry Parrish, and then leaped in the air as the Phillies headed for the post-season for the fourth time in five years.

Mr. McGraw relieved in 12 of the Phillies' 15 post-season games that fall, including all five League Championship Series games and four of the six World Series games.  He won one game and saved four.

Mr. McGraw was on the mound for the last out in Game 1 and Game 4 of the League Championship Series.

He struck out Willie Wilson to end the first World Series game, a 7-6 win over Kansas City at Veterans Stadium on October 14.  With the series tied at 2-2, Mr. McGraw picked up the win in Game 5 at Kansas City, on October 19.  This time, he struck out Jose Cardenal with the bases loaded for the final out.  "I got him out with my Cutty Sark fastball-it sails," proclaimed Mr. McGraw after the game.

Two days later, Mr. McGraw picked up a two-inning save and struck out Wilson with the bases loaded again to give the Phillies their first World Series win ever.  He leaped with both arms raised after the 11:29 p.m. final pitch that triggered a wild celebration throughout the Delaware Valley.

The following day, millions of fans turned out for a victory parade down Broad Street to JFK Stadium.  Holding a Philadelphia Daily News that carried a "WE WIN" headline, Mr. McGraw spoke to the more than 100,000 Phillies fans that filled the old stadium: "All throughout baseball history, Philadelphia has had to take a back seat.  But, today is their day."

After 33 seasons, the Vet closed on September 28, 2003.  Without a doubt, the greatest moment in the history of Veterans Stadium was Mr. McGraw's dramatic strikeout.  

It was only fitting that Mr. McGraw would stride to the mound one final time as the climax to the emotional closing ceremonies.  He peered in toward home plate, threw a simulated pitch and raised his two arms skyward as he had done 23 years earlier.  The current Phillies along with a large number of Alumni all headed for the mound to mob Mr. McGraw.

The greatest moment in Veterans Stadium history had taken one final bow.

Mr. McGraw was born on August 30, 1944, in Martinez, CA.  He was a 1962 graduate of St. Vincent Ferrer High School in Vallejo, CA.  He is survived by two brothers, Hank and Dennis: three sons, Tim, Mark and Matthew; one daughter, Cari, and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements will be private.



"Make no mistake about it,

the 1969 Miracle Mets will live forever

and the legacy will live on and on."

--- Art Shamsky



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We have received MANY letters of condolences for Tug and his family through this site.

We would like to share them with all of you.



1-6-04  Phillies Fan

God bless the Tugger.


1-6-04  John & Kate Tormey

Dear Cheryl and Jerry:
Kate and I are heartsick to hear the news...
Thank you for the tribute and the thoughts - we share them with you. John


1-6-04  Elena

I found out last night, and all I could think of was that day last year at Shea when we celebrated the 1973 team. I am so glad I was there that day. As a matter of fact that day was the first time I met you.  I hope Tug rests in peace and knows that true Met Fans Always Believe!!!!  Elena


1-6-04  Pastor Eradio

Jerry and Cheryl, We prayed for the family of Tug's this morning.  Bill brought the article that let us know he had passed away.  We join you in mourning the passing of a great athlete.  May the Lord comfort his family which includes you, is our prayer.


1-6-04  Rich Kissel

It's a sad day to Mets fans.  Rich Kissel


1-6-04  Stu Paul  (San Antonio, TX)

Hi Cheryl and Jerry:

Well, I just got back from Florida and I felt like my stomach was punched.  I just read that Tug McGraw passed away today.

It seems as if January has been a horrible month for the 69 Mets.  It's been 3 years since Tommie Agee died and now Tug is gone.  At least he won't suffer anymore, but still, it's horrible. 

Tug will be missed.  Sad way to start the year off.  I know Tug would have been 60 this year. 

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know.  Happy and Healthy New Year. 


Take care.  Stu Paul



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McGraw's family releases statement

PHILADELPHIA -- The family of Tug McGraw issued a statement on Wednesday, thanking the many fans and former associates who offered condolences after the passing of the popular relief pitcher on Monday.

"We are deeply saddened by Tug's passing, but we are proud to know that his accomplishments on and off the field, his energy, his smile and his zest for life had such a profound effect on so many in such a positive way.

"The outpouring of love and support that Tug received during his illness, from the baseball world and from all those who loved him, was pure comfort to Tug, who never stopped believing. We will miss him, but we take comfort in knowing that his spirit will never die."

Honoring McGraw's request, the family will hold a private memorial service on Saturday, Jan. 10.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Tug McGraw Foundation, 191 Sheree Blvd., Suite 200, Exton, PA 19341. Proceeds will benefit brain cancer research.

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