Born in Martinez, California, on August 30, 1944, Frank McGraw attended high school at St. Vincent Ferrer High School in nearby Vallejo, California. Though he was only 4’11” and weighed 100-pounds soaking wet as a freshman, he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Hank, and began playing baseball. Two years his senior, Hank had a strong enough bat and good enough defensive chops to be scouted by professionals and signed with the Mets in 1961. Frank, who had grown by this point and was now 5’9” and weighed 160-pounds., garnered no such attention, and after graduating went on to attend Solano Community College, a junior college in Fairfield, California.
Frank continued pitching, and because Hank now had professional contacts, he asked Mets scouts to look at his brother. Roy Partee, the scout who signed Hank obliged, but was not impressed with Frank, as he had a terrible outing. Hank drew a line in the sand and said that if the Mets did not sign his brother, he would quit baseball, and while the organization was not pleased, they obliged the catcher, as he was a highly regarded prospect and signing his younger brother would only cost the team a few thousand. Seven thousand, to be exact.
His first stop was the Cocoa Beach Mets, the Mets’ team in the short-lived Cocoa Rookie League, a complex-based rookie-level league in Brevard County, Florida. Armed with a fastball, a curveball, a mediocre changeup and a mediocre splitter, McGraw pitched a no-hitter in his very first professional start, beating the Cocoa Beach Colts 4-0. The Colts would feature three players who would go on to play in the majors- first baseman Gene Ratliff and pitchers Larry Dierker and Don Wilson.
McGraw would go on to post a 1.53 ERA in 47.0 innings with the team, who would go on to post a 28-22 record on the year, trailing only the 34-18 Twins. He was later promoted to the Auburn Mets, their New York-Penn League affiliate, where he posted a 1.89 ERA in 19.0 innings at the end of the 1964 season. After making a few token starts in the minors in 1965, the left-hander would make his major league debut. At the tender age of 20, the southpaw posted a 3.32 ERA in 97.2 innings with the Mets.
Oh, did I mention that Frank McGraw generally never went by his given name? “My mother started calling me Tug when I was an infant because of the way I nursed. ‘He’s a real Tugger,’ she said,” Tug McGraw would reminisce about where he got that particular nickname from.
While his 1964 no-hitter would be the first in the organization, and other players in the minor leagues would throw no-hitters over the years, the Mets would have to wait almost 50 years before Johan Santana threw one at the major league level on June 1st, 2012. We all knew that it would happen eventually; Ya Gotta Believe!