Tug McGraw, the colorful left-handed relief pitcher who helped the Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies capture World Series championships, died yesterday in the Nashville area. He was 59.
The cause was brain cancer, said Larry Shenk, a spokesman for the Phillies.
McGraw had surgery in Florida in March 2003 for removal of a malignant brain tumor, having worked during spring training as an instructor for the Phillies.
Last Sept. 28, at a highly emotional ceremony at the closing of the Phillies' Veterans Stadium after 33 seasons, McGraw threw a simulated pitch, then raised his arms in triumph as he had after throwing the pitch that gave the Phillies the 1980 World Series championship. He made an appearance at Shea Stadium last July, receiving a standing ovation.
''Tug McGraw was one of the great characters of the game of baseball,'' his Mets teammate Tom Seaver said in a statement yesterday. ''He just had a joy for life and living. But what people sometimes overlook because he was always happy go-lucky was what kind of competitior he was on the mound. No one competed with more intensity that he did.''