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Tug McGraw passes away

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Former major league relief pitcher Tug McGraw passed away Monday after a nearly 10-month bout with brain cancer. He was 59. McGraw, who had surgery in March to remove a brain tumor, won World Series titles with the New York and Philadelphia during a 19-year major league career.

He died at the home of his son, country music singer Tim McGraw, outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

McGraw was perhaps best known for coining the "You Gotta Believe" rally cry for New York's pennant run in 1973, but was also a beloved reliever for 10 seasons.

He helped Philadelphia capture its only World Series title in 1980, saving the decisive Game 6 against Kansas City with a ninth-inning strikeout of Willie Wilson.

McGraw played with the from 1975-84 and was in training camp last season as a guest pitching instructor. He was last with the team just one day before entering the hospital in March, and later made an appearance at the closing ceremony for Veterans Stadium in late September.

McGraw's final appearance at the Vet was an emotional one. He took the mound and reenacted his strikeout of Wilson by extending his hands high over his head.

"To know Tug was to love him," said chairman Bill Giles. "He was more than just a pitcher, he was loved by everyone that knew him. He had a special spirit that will never be forgotten by anyone who saw him pitch and he is responsible for Philadelphia's most defining sports moment when he struck out Willie Wilson to win the city's only World Championship."

Obviously weakened by treatment for his illness, McGraw was taxied to the mound before exiting to a thunderous ovation, and afterward he said he'd always carry with him fond memories of his playing days with the .

Fans in Philadelphia had a love for McGraw that was evident throughout his playing days and during his battle with brain cancer.

"He epitomized what Philadelphia is all about," said current manager Larry Bowa, a teammate of McGraw's in 1980. "He was hard-working, dedicated and never gave up."

Philadelphia pitcher echoed Bowa's sentiments.

"Losing him is like losing a super hero because he's one of the most charismatic people I've ever met," Wolf said. "We've immortalized him and it's a sad reminder that bad things happen to good people."

In his 19-year career, McGraw went 96-92 with a 3.14 ERA and 180 saves. He pitched for the from 1965-74.

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