January 6, 2004 by

Tug McGraw


Categories: Sports

tmcgraw.jpgFrank Edwin McGraw Jr., the relief pitcher who helped the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies capture World Series championships, died on Jan. 6 from brain cancer. He was 59.
“Tug” played baseball and football at Vallejo Junior College in California before signing with the Mets in 1965. He spent 19 years pitching in the National League, except for most of the 1967 season and all of 1968, when he was in the minors.
A left-hander with a wicked screwball, McGraw saved 12 games and posted a 9-3 record in 1969, the year the Mets shocked the baseball world by winning the World Series. Four years later, he helped the team climb from last place to first in the National League East Division before reaching the World Series. McGraw coined the team’s battle cry that year when he said, “You Gotta Believe!” The Mets came within one game of beating the Oakland Athletics.
Concerned about his torn shoulder muscle, the Mets traded McGraw to Philadelphia, where he pitched from 1975 to 1984. In 1980, he took the Phillies to the World Series, and in the bottom of the ninth of the final game, with bases loaded, he struck out Willie Wilson of Kansas City. The two-time All-Star had a career record of 96-92 with a 3.14 ERA and 180 saves.
After his retirement from baseball in 1984, McGraw became a public speaker and a television sports reporter. He also wrote three children’s books and narrated “Casey at the Bat” with the Philadelphia Pops. In March, Tug’s memoirs, “Ya Gotta Believe!: My Roller-Coaster Ride as a Screwball Pitcher, Part-Time Father and Hope-Filled Brain Tumor Survivor,” will be published by New American Library. McGraw is survived by his daughter and three sons, including country music star Tim McGraw.
Statistics From Baseball-Reference.com

2 Responses to Tug McGraw

  1. Kenneth Kinsey

    In addition, Tug McGraw was an accomplished cartoonist: He drew and cowrote the strip “Scroogie”, about an off-kilter relief pitcher and his exploits with teammates and fans (“scroogie”, a term Tug was credited with coining, refers to the screwball), was published nationally in the late ’70s. He also pitched (pun intended!)Armstrong ceiling tile on television.

  2. Dennis Allen

    I’m from Vallejo, and remember when Tug signed his deal with the Mets. It was a big deal in town, most of the guys his age were jealous…he ate it up (driving his new convertible) but was a gifted player. He came to my grammar school when I was in the 6th grade (Beverly Hills Elementary in Vallejo), signed autographs and encouraged us to do our best in school. I remember thinking, “That’s easy for you to say…you’re in the big show’. It was nice to see Vallejo on the map when the Mets won the series. ‘You gotta believe’:) RIP, Tug.

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