Jan. 6, 4:03 p.m.: Tug loses battle

He was a joy to watch and made baseball fun for all of us.

By: Hank Kalet
   Tug McGraw was the face of the 1973 Mets, the team I remember best from my youth.
   While the team failed to win the World Series, it managed to crawl back from last place in August to capture the east and then put a hurting on the Big Red Machine in the League Championship Series.
   It was Tug McGraw who best defined that team’s character, its never-say-die attitude. It was Tug who coined the phrase, "You Gotta Believe," it was his him I best remember, slamming his baseball mitt against his right thigh, tossing it high in the air.
   Tug was traded a couple of years later for John Stearns, a catcher who provided some solid play and who, if he didn’t get hurt, would have been one of the best backstops in team history. But sending Tug away hurt. It was one of a number of painful moves made by then-General Manager M. Donald Grant that not only gutted the team but robbed it of any personality.
   Tug died yesterday of cancer at 59. He will be missed by everyone who ever loved the Mets or the Phillies (he saved 180 games combined for the two teams and was on the mound when the Phillies won their only World Series title in 1980) and everyone who loved or loves baseball.