For as long as I can remember, I’ve always known that Tug McGraw, who was a star pitcher for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, was Tim McGraw’s dad.
I always assumed that the two had a great relationship, and had been in each other’s lives since Tim’s birth.
However, that was not always the case.
According to a recent profile with Esquire, Tim actually had no idea who his dad was until he was 11. He went in-depth about what this realization meant to him at that age:
“People ask me, ‘How could you have a relationship with your father? You were growing up with nothing. He was a millionaire baseball player. He knew you were there, and he didn’t do anything.
But when I found out Tug McGraw was my dad, it gave me something in my little town in Louisiana, something that I would have never reached for. How could I ever be angry?”
This wasn’t the first time the singer talked about his first knowledge of his father, as he discussed it in an interview with Larry King back in 2013:
“I didn’t know he was my dad. I was 11 years old and I was rummaging around in mom’s closet and found a birth certificate. I was growing up in Louisiana and my mom was divorced and we were barely getting by.
My (last) name was Smith. On my birth certificate, McGraw was scratched out and Smith was written in by hand.”
He also discussed the first time he met Tug at a Phillies game on Oprah’sMaster Class podcast in 2018:
“I met Tug the first time when I was 11 and it was just a quick sort of lunch and then seeing him play the game. It certainly wasn’t an acknowledgement that he was my father.”
He then recalled when he begged his mom to take him to Houston to watch his father pitch against the Astros:
“We go to the Astrodome, we walk in, and they’re warming up and he’s down on the field. He always did this thing where a player would hit balls with a Fungo bat and hit it up in the air and he would catch ’em behind his back.
So, he was doing that and I started yelling at him and then he wouldn’t look at me. So, I spent 30 minutes trying to get his attention and he wouldn’t look at me. So, I went and sat back down. And then I never saw him again until I was 18.”
Although the relationship started off a bit rocky, he told Oprah on the podcast that his father was a true inspiration for him to pursue his dreams:
“In a lot of ways, that probably was a good driving force for me. You know, knowing that his blood was in me, you know, it inspired me. It did. Whether he knew it or not or ever thought about it, he gave me something that you could never quantify.
He gave me a dream of what I might could become because of who he was. He was my father and what he had done with his life put something in me that I probably would not have ever had, who knows– but I certainly think that that was a driving force in me to think that I could become somebody.”
The two became close once Tim was 18, and remained that way until Tug’s death of brain cancer back in 2004.