Frank Edwin “Tug” McGraw
Pitcher 1965-1967, 1969-1974
The free-spirited closer whose catchphrase “Ya Gotta Believe” became the rallying cry for the Mets run to the 1973 World Series … The left hander saved 25 games and was an emotional leader in the clubhouse as the club captured its second National League pennant… A member of the 1969 World Series championship team … An All Star in 1972… Ranks among the Mets All-Time saves leaders with 86.
—Tug McGraw’s Mets Hall of Fame Plaque
The starting line is nigh for Sharon Chapman. In just three days, a year’s worth of preparation and training culminates in her 26.2-mile journey through the streets of New York.
Sharon, in case you’re just joining us, is running the New York City Marathon under the banner of Faith and Fear in Flushing…or running while wearing a wristband sporting our logo. We’re her official blog sponsor, and we couldn’t be prouder of her.
Aside from being flattered that she wanted to take a piece of the FAFIF Nation into battle with her, we are happy to report that her Marathon-linked fundraising for the Tug McGraw Foundation has drawn close to $6,000. That’s a total accumulated through the diligent work of Sharon (one of the most diligent people I’ve ever known) and the generosity of a lot of folks, including many of you.
On behalf of Sharon, Jason and myself, THANK YOU for caring enough to boost this great cause. We’ve gotten to the point of mentioning it almost in passing, but the Tug McGraw Foundation and its mission to combat the effects of brain cancer and provide a better life for those fighting their way through it is what this effort has been all about. We urge you to visit the Foundation’s Web site and read what they’re doing with contributions like yours. It’s impressive, it’s vital and — if you can lend it — it’s worthy of your support.
The touchstone for Sharon, for the staff of the Foundation and, I’d dare guess, for millions who have sought to chase a dream is Tug McGraw. He’s another figure we’ve gotten used to invoking by second nature. It’s no wonder. He hasn’t lived for six years, hasn’t played baseball for 26 years and hasn’t been a Met in 36 years, yet the spirit of Tug never leaves us — not if we’re Mets fans; not if we’re sports fans; not if we’re fans of not giving up.
It’s gotten to be a bit of a running (no pun intended) joke between Sharon and me as to whether the proper phrasing of Tug’s immortal rallying cry is “You Gotta Believe” or “Ya Gotta Believe,” yet either way you (or ya) look at it, it represents a powerful message. It said it all in 1973 for the Mets. It says it all every time we need it, whether we’re yearning for a hit, a strike or the ability to make it to the next mile.
Tug was such an inspirational figure and, at the same time, such a human being. He was a perfect figure for the Mets of the early ’70s: a little world-weary, a little overwrought by circumstances, a little uncertain of what lay ahead, a “flake” by his own reckoning…but ready to deal with anything through humor, grace and spectacular pitching when it really counted.
For Sharon, it counts this Sunday. We gotta believe she’s gonna go all the way.
If you’d like to contribute to Sharon Chapman’s run for the Tug McGraw Foundation and its fight against brain cancer, please do so here.