WATCH: Tim McGraw Receives Unexpected Surprise From Tug McGraw Fan During Meet And Greet

“This will pass down to our generations,” McGraw admitted of the incredibly special gift.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

June 20, 2024


4:13 pm

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Tim McGraw; Photos via Instagram

In honor of Father’s Day, Tim McGraw shared a glimpse into a memorable moment that took place during a recent meet & greet. The video shared via Instagram shows him receiving an incredibly special gift from a man who admittedly was not a fan of his music, but instead had a deep admiration for McGraw’s late father, Tug McGraw. As a result, the fan presented McGraw with a whole box of memorabilia from Tug’s time as a Major League Baseball player. 

The fan made it clear right away that country music wasn’t his genre of choice, meaning he had little to no knowledge of McGraw’s discography. However, that didn’t stop him from showing up to the meet & greet with a collection of baseball memories that he felt was worthy of passing down to someone who would truly appreciate it. 

“First thing he said was ‘I don’t know any of your music, but I’m a big fan of your dad,’” McGraw recalled in a recent Instagram post. 

Photo Courtesy Tim McGraw
Photo Courtesy Tim McGraw

Tug McGraw’s Baseball Legacy

Tug McGraw was a celebrated relief pitcher in the Major Leagues from 1965 to 1984. He won World Series championships with both the New York Mets in 1969 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980 and is known for his “Ya Gotta Believe” catchphrase. In 2004, Tug passed away from brain cancer at age 59. He has since been inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame and Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

Although McGraw didn’t develop a strong relationship with his father until later in life, he appeared to be incredibly appreciative of the sentimental gift. 

The country star is seen taking the time to go through each of the items, some of which even prompted him to share a few stories from his father’s past. One of the items was a vinyl record that highlights pivotal events from the 1980 World Series, the same game that Tug threw the final pitch striking out the Kansas City Royals’ Willie Wilson. 

The box also included tons of his dad’s rookie cards as well as clippings of newspaper and magazine articles that reported major events in baseball that Tug played a part in at the time. One cover in particular caught McGraw’s eye as it captured the Phillies players celebrating their World Championship win. In the photo, player Mike Schmidt is clearly seen jumping on Tug with the rest of the Phillies teammates after Tug’s memorable pitch.

McGraw Takes A Deeper Look At The Story Behind The Photo

Sharing the story behind the image, McGraw said, “Schmidty and Tug used to ride to the games together, and Schmidty had told Tug, ‘Look, this is what’s going to happen. Because you’ve been pitching great and you’ve been pitching in every game of the playoffs, in the World Series you’re going to be out there and you’re going to throw the last pitch and you’re going to win the game and you’re going to get all the attention…you’re going to be the hero for throwing one pitch. So when you strike out, whoever you strike out to win the game, I’m coming to tackle you because I’m getting in that picture.’”

He continued, “If you go back and you look, you see Tug throw the last pitch, you see him jump and then he turns and he is looking for Schmidty to come tackle him. Sure enough, Schmidty dives right over the top of him and that’s what that picture is right there.”

After sharing a few more stories from his father’s time on the team, the video flips to showcase McGraw snapping a photo with the man who gave him all these memories in a box. He can be heard sharing his appreciation for the thoughtful gift.

“Got a lot of cool stuff so thank you, man, for bringing this stuff out to me. This will pass down to our generations,” McGraw said in conclusion. 

Tim McGraw; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Tim McGraw; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

The Journey Of Their Father And Son Relationship

Tim McGraw and Tug had a complicated relationship for several years as the “Standing Room Only” singer didn’t even meet his biological father until he was 11 years old. While McGraw’s mother Betty was pregnant with him, Tug continued pursuing his dreams as a baseball star and eventually Betty remarried someone who McGraw saw as his father for the first years of his life. Then one day he discovered his birth certificate and realized there was more to his life story that he had never known.

Tug had also remarried and had kids of his own, leading him to be hesitant about forming a relationship with McGraw at first. But when he turned 17, McGraw and his father started to become closer, and Tug even helped kickstart his music career.

Despite their rocky start, Tim McGraw previously shared in an interview with Esquire that there was never any resentment toward his father for his early absence.

“People ask me, ‘How could you have a relationship with your father? You were growing up in nothing. He was a millionaire baseball player. He knew you were there, and he didn’t do anything.’ But when I found out Tug McGraw was my dad, it gave me something in my little town in Louisiana, something that I would have never reached for. How could I ever be angry?” he said.

The Formation Of The Tug McGraw Foundation

As a result of Tug’s diagnosis with brain cancer that ultimately led to his death, Tim formed the Tug McGraw Foundation, a non-profit that aims to improve the quality of life for “those affected by brain-related military trauma and glioblastoma brain tumors through education, resources and brain wellness programs.”

The country superstar also honored his father during the 2008 World Series, which marked the Phillies’ first appearance in the Fall Classic since ’80. McGraw attended the game to scatter some of his dad’s ashes on the pitcher’s mound and also to throw out the first pitch in game three. 

Tim McGraw continues to be a strong supporter of his dad’s former team and with his most recent gift, will have the chance to learn even more about Tug’s career and the legacy he left behind. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.