The outpouring of affection from his teammates moved McGraw to tears, which isn't surprising, because, like any respectable Irishman, he weeps copiously when he is happy. And this time he was happier than usual. He had been on a World Series winner with the Mets in 1969, but this one represented, as he put it, "the end of an incredible journey," one in which the Phillies came from behind in every playoff and World Series win except the last. McGraw was crying for the long-suffering fans of Philadelphia and for his teammates, who had built a reputation for themselves as the grumpiest bunch of guys this side of an Army chow line.
McGraw had been regarded as something of a character since the day he joined the Phils in 1975 from the Mets. His exuberance and theatrical mannerisms—the thigh-slapping, the jumps for joy, the breast-beating—had made him a natural favorite of fans grown weary of dour performers. And his open manner and very nearly professional wit had endeared him to the media. McGraw was always good for a laugh. Asked during the Series if his arm had grown stiff from overwork, he replied snappily, "Yes. It's an ailment common to lefthanded relief pitchers who are Irish and drink a lot."
So the fans and the press loved him, and if there were any two sorts of people his teammates had not loved, they were the fans, who booed them, and the press, which criticized them. Tug had picked strange bedfellows.
McGraw was himself ill at ease in such downbeat company, and he was keenly aware that the other Phillies weren't buying the, as he calls it, "Tug McGraw Show." "Tug was brought here to loosen up the club," his wife, Phyllis, says. "But he felt intimidated. He felt he couldn't be himself."
"One of the things that made me most uncomfortable," says Tug, "was the cynical, negative humor in the clubhouse. It seemed to me a little more malicious than normal. I realize that the players' relations with the fans were taxing and frustrating. The fans are tough here, but the players were equally guilty in their attitude. The same was true of the press. Sure, a lot of the ripping they got was unjustified, but the players were unreasonable in their inability to accept criticism. But what surprised me most was that they were tougher on each other. They'd go around bitching about the press ripping them and the fans booing them and then, in the clubhouse, the one private place where you'd expect some harmony, they'd be ripping each other. The criticism used to bounce around that place like marbles in a bathtub."
All that changed this season, in McGraw's view, for three reasons—Pete Rose, Dallas Green and a natural erosion of hostility. Rose, who is as exuberant on the field and as congenial off it as McGraw, helped show that fun has a place in the game. And Green, the relatively new manager, transferred the clubhouse carping to his office. "He got them off each other's backs," says Tug. "It was as if he were saying, 'Stop hating each other. Use it all on me.' "
Green would threaten even established veterans with demotion. He angered McGraw when he advised the press that Tug had better get off to a good start in 1980 or face a long summer of inactivity. "I'd had a great spring," says McGraw. "I went to Dallas and said, 'What's all this? You told me I was your lefthanded reliever.' Dallas just looked at me and said, 'Don't take things so literally. If we're going to win, there's not a guy on this team who won't have to get off to a good start.' I left the office saying, 'I'm going to show that sumbitch.' "
McGraw had a brilliant year—57 appearances, 20 saves, five wins, a 1.47 earned run average during the season; a win, a loss, two saves and a 1.17 ERA in the Series. And he finally achieved rapport with his teammates. "Take Bonesy [Larry Bowa]. He and I are emotional types, but his theory is that I can't be goofing around on the field the way I do and still be playing hard. He thinks you have to go out there gritting your teeth. Now he'll call to me and make this stirring motion with his hand, telling me to stir things up a little. In the past he never acted like that. And look at how he and Bull [Greg Luzinski] tipped their caps when the fans booed them in the first game of the playoffs. Ron Reed even did a cartwheel off the mound this year. A cartwheel! It's a part of this team that finally came to the surface. We finally got to understand each other."
McGraw likes that family feeling. He lives with Phyllis, their two children, Mark, eight, and Cari, seven, and his mother-in-law, Neva, in a 14-room, four-fireplace, mid-19th-century farmhouse in the lovely borough of Media, Pa., about half an hour by train from downtown Philadelphia. For all his talk of being an "All-Star in the Neon League," McGraw is a fierce family man. During the Series, his father, Frank, called Big Mac, brother Hank, cousin Donna and uncle Ted all stayed in the house. The whole family sat up past five in the morning after Tug struck out Wilson, having a few John Jamesons, laughing and crying, hugging and kissing. "We are an emotional family," says Big Mac.
McGraw has been "Tug" almost since his birth 36 years ago in Martinez, Calif., a small city east of San Francisco that has the further distinction of being the birthplace of Joe DiMaggio. "Tug's mother nursed all three of the boys," Frank McGraw explains, "and Tug, well, he...you know, tugged."