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100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 23 – Tug McGraw

Tug McGraw
Relief Pitcher

Career w/Phillies: 722 IP / 49-37 / 94 SV / 3.10 ERA / 491 K

On December 3, 1974, the New York Mets traded beleaguered but star reliever Tug McGraw to the Phillies. Instantly, the Phillies became a contender. Moreover, McGraw began his 30-year relationship with Philadelphia, a relationship that almost every Phillies fan holds dear. Tugger was an immediate impact upon arrival, recording a 2.98 ERA in more than 100 innings for the 1975 Phils, a team on the rise. He was even better in 1976, recording a 2.50 ERA for the newly postseasoned pinstripes. McGraw continued to perform well until 1979, when everything seemed to fall apart for a team destined for a title. But Tugger rebounded in a big way in 1980, posting a 1.46 ERA in more than 90 innings, striking out 75 while walking 23. His performance helped take the Phils to the World Series, and of course, the moment all Philadelphians will cherish: His strikeout of Willie Wilson and subsequent magic leap into the air, arms raised as high as the moon above. McGraw had a couple years in the tank, but his innings dwindled considerably. He retired in 1984 and joined WPVI as a reporter, showing off his trademark humor and Irish spirit. Sadly, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2003, and though he was able to recreate his famous pitch before the Vet was demolished, he died in early 2004. Just before game three of the 2008 World Series, his son, Tim McGraw, spread Tug’s ashes onto the mound at Citizens Bank Park. The ol’ Irish luck rubbed off: The Phillies won the World Series.

Comment: An adopted son. A true legend. When Tug was at his best the Phils were, too. He is the gold standard for relievers in Philadelphia, and to many, a gold standard for human beings.


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