Many thanks to NPR’s weekend morning trivia programming for (re)introducing me to Tug McGraw. And there’s plenty of intriguing trivia indeed for poor Tug: closing out the first World Series win for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980; father of country music singer, Tim McGraw; and then there’s that legend behind his curious moniker, reportedly due to his voracious appetite for breast milk as an infant.
Tug lived out a rather colorful playing career. He inspired a modest if not devoted following throughout his roughly equal time spent with first the Mets (1965-1974) and then the Phillies (1975-1984). His pitching skills also earned him a couple of trips to the All-Star game. Almost as notably, however, Tug briefly met Betty D’Agostino while playing with Triple-A Jacksonville and fathered Tim. It was not until well after his retirement following the 1984 season that Tug and Tim finally developed a sustained, even close, relationship.
Sadly, tragically, Tug died from a malignant brain tumor before reaching the age of 60–but not before the bond between father & son was strengthened all the more. Earlier, Tug had reportedly helped Tim sign his first major record contract. Now Tim helped pay for Tug’s hospital treatments. The dutiful, loving son was there to support his dying father until the end.
And the end came for Tug–late one winter afternoon in Tim’s cabin in Brentwood, Tennessee on January 4, 2004.