NEW YORK — The worlds of music and baseball came together Monday night (Nov. 14) in New York City at the first Ya Gotta Believe Gala to benefit the Tug McGraw Foundation, which provides education and funds for brain cancer research. The famed pitcher died in 2004 of brain cancer.
Arriving for the event at Gotham Hall, his son, Tim McGraw, noted that his late father “would have loved all this attention. He was a ham. We hope we can do this every year in conjunction with the CMAs.” McGraw said the foundation hopes to “make people aware of the situation and raise money for the quality of life for cancer patients.”
Asked about a favorite memory of his father, McGraw said, “I have many favorite memories. One special one is the first time we met and spent some time together, and he said he would be proud for me to carry his name.”
Sportscaster and commentator Bob Costas was host for the evening. Ya Gotta Believe awards were presented to baseball veteran Rusty Staub and to ESPN in recognition of its work on behalf of the foundation and cancer survivors. CMT was program sponsor. Brian Philips, executive vice president and general manager of CMT, was chair of the event. Musical performances were provided by the Warren Brothers, Tim McGraw’s Dancehall Doctors and Hot Apple Pie.
The genesis of the phrase, “Ya Gotta Believe,” was fondly recalled by Staub, McGraw’s teammate on the New York Mets. It came in the Mets’ 1973 season, which ultimately resulted in a World Series appearance. When the Mets were losing early in the year, Staub recalled, “We were not playing well, and Mr. Grant [Mets chairman M. Donald Grant] had just given us a speech in the locker room. Tug got up and screamed, ‘Ya gotta believe!’ We all hid our faces in our lockers so Mr. Grant wouldn’t see who was laughing. But Tug kept yelling it — and it caught on.”