January 05, 2004
RIP, Tug McGraw


Tug McGraw, the zany relief pitcher who coined the phrase "You Gotta Believe" with the New York Mets and later closed out the Philadelphia Phillies' only World Series championship, died Monday. He was 59.

McGraw died of brain cancer at the home of his son, country music star Tim McGraw, outside of Nashville, team spokesman Larry Shenk said. He had been battling the disease since March when he underwent surgery for a malignant tumor.

McGraw participated in the closing ceremonies for Veterans Stadium, which will be demolished next month. During the program, he re-enacted his final pitch of the 1980 World Series, striking out Kansas City's Willie Wilson for the title.


A left-hander who threw a screwball, McGraw was a bit of screwball himself, a fan favorite in New York, Philadelphia and throughout the majors.

Once asked whether he preferred to play on a grass field or an artificial surface, he said, "I don't know. I never smoked any AstroTurf."

I've never been a Mets fan, but that didn't matter. You couldn't help but like Tug regardless of your team loyalty. He brought a zest to the game that just made you smile. Rest in peace, Tug McGraw.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 05, 2004 to Baseball | TrackBack

Yes, but at least the Dead Pool has shed first blood.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on January 5, 2004 9:55 PM

Tug McGraw was the first New York baseball "character" or "flake" (and I mean that in the best way possible) I grew up with (Jim Bouton was before I was born and Sparky Lyle would come later.) I even remember reading his autobiography "Screwball" when I was 12 (where I first read the Astroturf quote). Regardless of the situation, he brought a positive attitude to the game and made baseball fun to watch.

Later on, he brought that charisma to the sports desk on both New York and Philadelphia TV. Even though his playing days were over, he was still the same character he always was.


Posted by: William Hughes on January 6, 2004 8:24 AM