Philadelphia Phillies: 50 greatest players of all-time
Tug McGraw became an instant legend in the City of Philadelphia when he threw the final pitch of the 1980 World Series, clinching the Phillies’ first championship.
McGraw began his career as a starter with the New York Mets in 1965, but established himself as a reliever early on. Success wasn’t immediate for McGraw, who had a 4.47 ERA in his first three seasons with the Mets in limited opportunities.
After missing the 1968 season with the Mets, McGraw returned and began his dominant reign as one of the Mets best relievers. Over the next four years, McGraw had a 2.18 ERA and 57 saves for New York.
In 1973 McGraw’s “Ya Gotta Believe” speech helped lead the Mets to a World Series victory.
McGraw came to Philadelphia after the 1974 season along with outfielders Don Hahn and Dave Schneck for pitcher Mac Scarce, outfielder Del Unser and catcher John Stearns. He earned his only All-Star appearance as a Phillie in his first season. In five of his first seven seasons in Philadelphia, he had an ERA under three.
Statistically McGraw’s best season came in 1980 with a career-best 1.46 ERA and a fifth-place finish in the Cy Young race. And of course, he did this.
McGraw pitched four more seasons in Philadelphia before retiring after the 1984 season.
After working in the media and with the Phillies, McGraw fell ill in 2003 and was diagnosed with brain cancer. Months before his passing, McGraw surprised everyone at the closing of Veterans Stadium and reenacted his famous leap as one of the final moments at the ballpark.
McGraw passed less than four months later. He was honored with a four-leaf clover patch in recognition of his green St. Patrick’s Day uniform, which the team has continued to wear on the holiday during spring training.
McGraw is fourth all-time in games pitched, the sixth most saves and the most games finished in Phillies history.