It’s creeping past 11 p.m. and the Phillies closer is on the mound. The team has been through some dark years, never being able to pull off in the clutch and secure the World Series crown. The pitch is released … and … STRIKE! The closer, Tug McGraw, breaks out into his iconic Irish jig, celebrating the Phillies first World Series win in franchise history during Game 6 of the 1980 series.
There were no jigs, but Tug’s magic was definitely present as Ruiz chipped a single to left and Eric Bruntlett came flying towards home plate during the Phils Game 3 win in the ninth. When Tim McGraw, the country music star and Tug’s son, came out after the 90-minute rain delay to throw the ceremonial first pitch, he had brought something else to the field: His father’s ashes. With little fanfare, McGraw sprinkled a few of his father’s remains onto the mound before returning to his seat.
In a city whose superstitions are as old as the franchise and with a game built on ritual, tradition and a whole lotta faith, the gesture should hardly be overlooked. There are few things in life so poetic.