Link: The Uncommon Life of Hank McGraw

In 2002, legendary Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith tracked down Tug McGraw’s brother, Hank, somewhere off the grid in Northern California. As Smith wrote:

I got out of the car. There stood Hank McGraw, one of the Mets’ first bonus babies: the McGraw who was supposed to go the furthest of them all. “The pearl at the bottom of the ocean.” That’s what Tug, his little brother, called him. “A mythical figure. He was All-Everything when I was a kid, and all I ever wanted was to be part of his world. Even after I’d made a name in the big leagues, Hank would appear in the clubhouse, and it was like Jesus showing up. He’s risen! He’s returned! The rest of us had become what we’d had to become to be major leaguers. Not Hank. He wouldn’t compromise who he was or what he believed. He wouldn’t cut his hair. All of a sudden my teammates would be around him like ants on a sugar cube. Next thing you know my hotel room’s the convention center—Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee and Jerry Koosman and the guys are all there with beer and ribs, and Hank’s playing his guitar and everyone’s singing. Then he’d disappear again. When you’re out there as the forward scout, you can’t come back and stay on the wagon train. Someone has to go to the edge and be willing to risk falling off so the rest of us can know when to turn back.

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t. I have no method, but I have ways. I have no intentions—but many thoughts. I’m full of gripes, and a few ideas. I’m an ass—-, and I mean that sincerely. I have no false pride. I’ll give charity, and take charity. I’m trying to become more honest. If you can just get honest, maybe you can take that last breath without it catching in your throat.”

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