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Thank Tug McGraw for MLB's Green Tradition of Uniforms

In 1977, Tug McGraw stepped onto the field on St. Patrick's Day - wearing an all green uniform that he had dyed the night before. Umpire Nick Colosi, citing a major league rule that players on a team must all wear the same color uniforms, wouldn't allow McGraw to pitch. That wasn't going to stop McGraw, two years later, in a game against the White Sox on St. Patrick's Day, Tug McGraw attempted once again, the annual Wearing-of-the-Green St. Patrick’s Day.

The Day Tug Broke All Uniform Rules:

McGraw Has'em Seeing Green

by Jayson Stark

Philadelphia Inquire-March 18, 1979

Clearwater, Fla-Tug McGraw was having trouble warming up to pitch the seventh inning for the Phillies yesterday. His top hat kept getting in the way. What top hat? The green one with “Erin Go Bragin” on it. The one Tug McGraw wore as he trotted in from the bullpen, his Irish eyes smiling, as all Irish eyes should on St. Patrick’s Day. “ Intended to pitch with it, but it went up too high (to get his arms over it)", said the Phillies’ Ambassador of Irish affairs.

So Tug McGraw made his one concession. He agreed to take off his Irish top hat while he pitched. He carefully laid the hat on the grass behind the mound, put on a real red Phillies cap and pitched a one-two-three seventh. The he placed the top hat back on his head and marched back to the dugout to a standing ovation. Yes, friends, it was time once again yesterday for the annual Tug McGraw Wearing-of-the-Green St. Patrick’s Day One-Man Parade and Pitching Exhibition.

Two years ago, McGraw attempted to go to the mound wearing a green uniform. But the home-plate umpire that,Nick Colosi, wouldn’t let him wear it. Then came yesterday, McGraw’s finest effort to date. The first thing Tug did after reaching the mound was to unzip his uniform pants before 4,000 fans. Under there was green jogging shorts, green longjohns and green socks.

Next, McGraw unzipped his under shirt which was a green T-shirt with a leprechaun on it, plus his immortal words, “Ya Gotta Believe.”

McGraw’s Irish luck ran out in the eighth, however. With one out, the White Sox’ Wayne Nordhagen slammed a high curve ball for a game-tying pinch-hit home run. As Nordhagen rounded third, McGraw confronted him. “Don’t you know this is supposed to be my day?” he said.

Danny Ozark pulled McGraw for a pinch-hitter in the eight. “The reason I gave him the hook,” said Ozark, after the 3-2 Phils victory, “is the (expletive deleted) didn’t give me a bottle of Irish whisky like he promised.

10 Years Later

In 1989, The Phillies furthered Tug McGraw's tradition by going all out in having the entire team come onto the field in green uniforms. Other teams quickly followed suit and have worn some variation, either green caps, green jerseys or both.

Photo Credits: AP Source


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