Although McGraw, the 1883 star, grew up in Louisiana, the family name still is held in high esteem in Philadelphia. After all, Tug McGraw, Tim’s dad, played a large part in bringing the Phillies their first World Series title. This was back in 1980. Read on for more of the elder McGraw’s heroics in that game.
On Tuesday, the Phillies recognized Tim McGraw, his wife Faith Hill and their daughters, on the massive video board at Citizens Bank Park. And as the Philadelphia crowd gave him a huge cheer, McGraw stood up to show off Tug’s jersey. Although his dad died 18 years ago, Tug’s memory was very much alive Tuesday night as the Phillies coasted to pick up a 7-0 shutout of the Houston Astros. Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead, overall, with the Phillies needing two more victories to clinch the World Series title.
Tim McGraw looked pretty pumped when the Phillies recognized him. But back in 1980, when the Phillies were battling the Kansas City Royals for MLB supremacy, McGraw didn’t have a relationship with Tug. He was just getting used to the idea Tug was his dad. You see, Tim McGraw grew up believing that Horace Smith, his mother’s husband, was his father. But when he was 11, McGraw found his birth certificate while playing in his mother’s closet.
Tim’s mother, Betty D’Agostino, had a brief fling with Tug McGraw when she was a senior in high school. This was back in the mid-1960s when Betty lived in Jacksonville, Fla. Tug was an up-and-coming pitcher playing for the Jacksonville Suns, a minor-league team. When Betty got pregnant, her family sent her to Louisiana to live with relatives.
Tug McGraw didn’t publicly recognize Tim as his son until Tim was 18. By then, Tug’s baseball career was over, so Tim McGraw didn’t get to publicly cheer for his dad in the middle of a raucous bunch of Philly fans like he did Tuesday night.
But in hindsight, Tim McGraw said finding out about his dad inspired him to lofty goals. He told Esquire: “I felt like when I found that out, you know, he’s a professional baseball player who’s successful, to me, it made me think that blood is in my veins, so that ability is in there… So I found sort of that grit inside me that he must have had to succeed at what he did. And it changed what I thought I could make out of my life.”
So about that special night in Philadelphia sports history. Tug McGraw stuck out Willie Wilson to clinch the 1980 World Series, the franchise’s first championship. The older McGraw appeared in four of the six series games, with 10 strikeouts. The beauty of technology is you can always pull up these types of memories, as Tim McGraw did late last week when the series started. As Terence Mann said at the end of Field of Dreams:
“The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.” Now, how about this memory. Watch as McGraw shakes off one sign, then entices Wilson to swing at the pitch: