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McGraw throws Game 4 ceremonial first pitch

Country music star is son of late Mets closer, Tug, who coined phrase 'Ya Gotta Believe'

NEW YORK -- "Ya Gotta Believe."

That phrase was coined by Mets great Tug McGraw in the middle of the 1973 season. Forty-two years later, McGraw's son Tim, an award-winning country music star, threw out the first pitch before the Royals beat the Mets, 5-3, in Game 4 of the 2015 World Series on Saturday night at Citi Field.

:: World Series: Mets vs. Royals -- Tune-in info ::

Tim McGraw has sold more than 40 million records worldwide and dominated the charts with 36 No. 1 singles. He's won three Grammy Awards, 16 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 10 American Music Awards and three People's Choice Awards.

Dress for the World Series with Mets gear

Tug McGraw, a member of the Mets Hall of Fame, was one of the best closers in the National League in the early 1970s, and he had a career year in '72, with an 8-6 record and a 1.70 ERA. He gave up just 71 hits in 106 innings pitched, set a Mets record with 27 saves (a mark that lasted until 1984) and earned his first All-Star selection.

In 1973, the Mets fell to last place midway through the season before rallying to win the NL pennant. On July 9, in the middle of a team meeting with Mets board chairman M. Donald Grant, the emotional left-hander McGraw yelled out, "Ya Gotta Believe!" And that phrase became a rallying cry for the team and Mets fans alike. The Mets reached first place on Sept. 21 and clinched the division on the final day of the season. Their improbable success story ended when they lost the '73 World Series in seven games to the Oakland Athletics.

Following the 1973 season, McGraw was traded to Philadelphia, where he won a World Series in 1980. In March 2003, McGraw was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He passed away in January 2004, at the age of 59. That season, the Mets played with "Ya Gotta Believe" embroidered on their left shoulders and Tim reached No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts with his song "Live Like You Were Dying," recorded in memory of his father.

Video: Tim McGraw talks about his Mets fandom, new album

The younger McGraw tossed a strike, a full 60 feet, six inches from atop the pitcher's mound, to former Mets pitcher John Franco, who wore No. 45 as a Met in honor of Tug McGraw. The ceremonial ball Tim McGraw threw was delivered to the mound by Mitchell Jones, 15, a sophomore at Urban Assembly Gateway School and member of the Educational Alliance Edgies Clubhouse in Manhattan. He was escorted by former Mets closer and member of the 1986 World Series champion Mets, Jesse Orosco.

Video: WS2015 Gm4: Demi Lovato sings the national anthem

The national anthem was performed by Demi Lovato, who also headlined the MLB All-Star Concert this July in Cincinnati. Lovato had previously performed the anthem prior to Game 5 of the 2011 World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Her fifth studio album, "Confident," was released on Oct. 16.

Lindsay Berra is a columnist for
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