Tim McGraw Reflects on ‘Tearful Moments’ Honoring His Father at Phillies World Series Game

by Suzanne Halliburton
Mary Kouw/CBS via Getty Images

Tim McGraw and most of his family sat front and center at Tuesday’s World Series game to honor his late dad, Tug McGraw.

Or, as McGraw called his pops, “the Tugger.” Tim McGraw posted on Twitter:

“We had such a great time at the World Series game last night! Having Faith and all our girls there, along with my brothers and our niece was so special. We really missed having our sister Cari, niece Ceriah and our Uncle Hank with us.”

He added: “If you’ve seen some of the pics…..we had a few tearful moments remembering the Tugger! Huge thank you to Major League Baseball and the Phillies for the hospitality!!!! Go Phillies!!!”

Tug McGraw is a huge name in Philadelphia sports history. After all, he enticed the final batter in the 1980 World Series to swing and miss for a championship-clinching strike out. It was the first World Series title in Phillies team history.

Tim McGraw posted a video of the throwback moment on his Instagram account as this year’s World Series began between the Phillies and the Houston Astros. It’s like time this awesome moment in sports history happened yesterday, as opposed to 42 years ago. The Tugger, the confident, “ya gotta believe” reliever, made his fourth appearance in the Series. He was on the mound in relief of Cy Young winner Steve Carlton. And down 4-0, the Royals loaded the bases in the ninth inning. But McGraw struck out Willie Wilson for the final out.

Tim McGraw wasn’t in the stands that night to watch his dad’s heroics. He didn’t have a relationship with Tug. In fact, this country music superstar was just getting used to the idea Tug was his birth father. Tim McGraw grew up thinking that Horace Smith, his mother’s husband, was his father. But when he was 11, McGraw was playing in his mother’s closet when he discovered his birth certificate.

Tim’s mother, Betty D’Agostino, met Tug McGraw when she was a senior in high school. This happened in Jacksonville, Fla., when Tug was in the minor leagues playing for the Suns. When Betty found out she was pregnant, her family sent her to Louisiana to live with relatives. She stayed there and started her family.

Tim McGraw got to know his father, Tug, as an adult. (Thomas S. England/Getty Images)

Tug McGraw wouldn’t publicly recognize Tim as his son until Tim was 18. By then, Tug’s baseball career was ending. His son never got the joy of cheering on dad in a sporting spectacle like the World Series. With his wife, Faith Hill and his three daughters, Tim McGraw had that opportunity Tuesday night. He wore his dad’s jersey and the Phillies put the McGraw family on the video board.

The two men did build a relationship in the time Tug had left on earth. Tug died in 2004 at age 59. Tim McGraw, to honor his dad, recorded the song “Live Like You Are Dying.” The music video featured the Tugger getting the last out. And in 2008, the next time the Phillies won the World Series, Tim McGraw spread some of his dad’s ashes on the pitcher’s mound.