Six years ago today, the world became deprived of Tug McGraw. The prevailing emotion among Mets fans, baseball fans and humanity fans was sadness, which seemed not quite right since I can’t think of a ballplayer who more personified Joy with a capital J, to say nothing of Belief with a capital B. When it came to positive emotional responses, Tug brought out the Upper Case in all of us.
“It’s 1973 forever in some essential compartment of our collective soul,” I wrote in the wake of the news. “Tug McGraw is forever a Met, the quintessential Met, the Met whose DNA defines this franchise. Imperfect rather than inept. Hilarious but not comical. Excitable boy who’s The Man on the mound. We’re never out of it. We always have some kind of chance, some screwy opportunity to get back in the game, get back in the race, cast aside all those errors and fat pitches and LOBs that dug us into this impossible hole in April and May and June and July and August and claw our way out.”
Tug was a lovable character but he could pitch some, too. It was his turnaround as much as his spiritual uplift that made the 1973 division title and pennant possible. He was no mascot. He was a fireman, a closer, a true relief ace. All the Mets came together down that most memorable of stretch drives, but when it came to getting back in the race, it figuratively started and literally ended with Tug recording the big out.
Now there’s another race involving Tug. And that wristband above will be a part of it.
We recently told you about our friend Sharon Chapman, a.k.a. Inside Pitcher from the comments section, and how she’ll be running the New York City Marathon as a member of Team McGraw. She and they are devoted to raising funds and awareness for the good work of the Tug McGraw Foundation, an organization established to help those facing the same struggle with brain cancer that Tug fought. “Over 200,000 adults and children annually receive a diagnosis of brain cancer,” according to the Foundation, which has made its mission the support of “research that will improve their quality of life in the physical, social, spiritual, and cognitive areas.”
The wristband? Well, à la Stephen Colbert and the U.S. Olympic speedskating squad, it signifies that when Sharon runs the Marathon, she will be representing the Faith and Fear Nation. Jason and I didn’t even know we had one, but the more we thought about it, the more we liked the idea of being a small component of this big effort for Team McGraw. And even if FAFIF doesn’t quite qualify as a nationality, we do have a very nice community here, its quality proven time and again by citizens like Sharon. She did all the heavy lifting on this, getting the wristband made up amid her other myriad training and organizing efforts. All we’re doing is cheering her on and asking, if you can, to help her and the Tug McGraw Foundation’s cause along. We’ll be checking in on Sharon’s road to the New York City Marathon periodically throughout the year and telling you more about what’s fueling this truly Amazin’ run.
Go Nation Go!