5 most legendary Phillies relief pitchers of all time

Relief pitcher Tug McGraw #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Relief pitcher Tug McGraw #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Phillies Tug McGraw
PHILADELPHIA, PA – CIRCA 1978: Pitcher Tug McGraw #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches circa 1978 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McGraw played for the Phillies from 1975-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

1. Tug McGraw

For statistical, postseason, and emotional, nostalgic, ‘how can you not be romantic about baseball?’ reasons, Tug McGraw is the Phillies reliever to end all Phillies relievers.

Joining the Phillies in his age-30 season in 1975 after nine years with the New York Mets, McGraw impressed immediately. His first season in red pinstripes was an All-Star one; the southpaw bounced back from his 1974 struggles in Queens, lowering his ERA from 4.16 over 88 2/3 innings, to 2.98 over 102 2/3.

Over ten seasons in Philadelphia, McGraw compiled a 3.10 ERA over 463 games, including finishing 313, making three starts, and earning 94 saves.

Between the 1976 NLCS and the 1981 NLDS, McGraw pitched in 18 postseason games for the Phillies. Over 30 2/3 innings, he posted a 2.64 ERA, and went 5-for-5 in save opportunities. He only allowed one home run in his Phillies postseason career.

The definition of a workhorse, McGraw pitched in all five games of the 1980 NLCS, against the then-National League Houston Astros. He then appeared in four of six World Series games. In Game 6, McGraw loaded the bases in the ninth inning before striking out Willie Wilson to give the Phillies their first championship in 97 years of Phillies baseball.

McGraw tragically passed away in January 2004, after a 10-month battle with glioblastoma; he was only 59 years old.

Before Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, his son, country music star Tim McGraw, spread some of his father’s ashes on the mound. The Phillies won the game and went on to win the championship, their first since McGraw himself threw the final pitch in 1980.

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