Monday, September 1, 2014

Tug McGraw would have been 70: 1979 Topps #345

Over the weekend found out via @HighHeatStats that this past Saturday would have been Tug McGraw's 70th birthday. McGraw seemed perpetually young, his 2004 death from brain cancer at age 59 felt so premature. 

1999 09 15 Tug McGraw Event Poster for Chester County Historical Society Speaker Series. Artwork by Dick Perez
1979 Topps #345 Tug McGraw

15 years ago I got to see Tug McGraw speak as part of a baseball exhibit at the Chester County Historical Society, which at the time was a block away from my apartment.

As one can imagine Tug was a great speaker, He talked about his days as a starting pitcher with the Mets and as a reliever for the 1980 Phillies.

Some of the interesting tidbits I remember are that he pitched against Sandy Koufax. He also batted against him and said that one of his proudest moments was putting the ball in play off of the Hall of Famer.

He brought his personal World Series Trophy (the players each get a smaller replica trophy from the league) from the Phillies 1980 World Championship. He also had his 1969 World Series Ring from the Miracle Mets triumph. McGraw explained that he knew it was a Phillies event but that the then current year (1999) was a Mets Anniversary Year and he wore that ring. The following year would be the Phillies 20th anniversary and he would switch rings in 2000.

Amazingly McGraw passed both items through the audience. He said he had done this has similar speaking engagements and knew he would get them back.

The night of the CCHS event Tugger signed autographs for all in attendance. There was youngster in front of me that had a baseball that literally had the cover ripped away. The boy asked McGraw to sign the ball on the inside of the cover. McGraw mentioned that he had signed thousands of autographs but had never signed on the inside of the horsehide.

McGraw signed both poster that accompanied the event and a 1979 Topps Card that I brought. Both autographs contained his trademark smiley face.  

Sources & Links
Baseball Card Database

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