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RIVERDALE, N.Y. – As the Manhattan College volleyball team enters its final home weekend of the 2008 season, the mantra “Ya Gotta Believe” is a popular one in the Lady Jaspers’ locker room. Manhattan (8-16, 7-7 MAAC), one loss behind fourth-place Iona and Marist for one of the four berths in the MAAC Tournament, still has a realistic belief that it will earn one of those four spots. But “Ya Gotta Believe” also has another meaning for the squad. It is the slogan of the Tug McGraw Foundation, which the Lady Jaspers will support during this weekend’s matches against Niagara and Canisius.
McGraw, a left-handed relief pitcher, won the World Series with the 1969 New York Mets and again with the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies. During the Mets’ improbable run to the 1973 National League pennant, McGraw coined the phrase “Ya Gotta Believe,” which was also used as a rallying cry for the 1980 Phillies, whose championship was the first in franchise history.
McGraw was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2003 and died less than a year later. The Tug McGraw Foundation was established in 2003 to raise funds to improve the quality of life for children and adults with brain tumors and their families. It addresses all impacts of the disease (physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual) through research conducted primarily at the Tug McGraw Research Center within the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Manhattan will wear gray tie-dyed socks on Saturday and will be selling “45YGB” bracelets, with all proceeds going towards the cause. Gray is the color of brain cancer awareness, and “45YGB” stands for “45, Ya Gotta Believe.” McGraw wore jersey number 45 throughout his career. The team also encourages fans to support the Girls Giving Hope division of the foundation by purchasing copies of the book “My Little Girl,” then donating them to children’s hospitals that specialize in cancer research and treatment. “My Little Girl” is a children’s book written by country music star Tim McGraw, Tug McGraw’s son, about a father and daughter’s ordinary day that turns into an extraordinary adventure together, and serves as a simple reminder of the importance of spending time with loved ones.
Donations can also be made at the Tug McGraw Foundation website or the Girls Giving Hope page. The matches on both Saturday and Sunday start at 11 a.m. at Draddy Gymnasium.