Stop in your tracks and grab something to hold on to when you see this man’s mug. Have a swing and a miss, or reach up and do this; hit just inside the foul line to score a single.
The John J. McGraw Memorial Monument in Truxton is a tribute to hometown hero and 30-year manager (1902-1932) of the New York Giants baseball organization. Nearby is Truxton's McGraw Field, site of a rare midseason exhibition game played in August, 1934, between the NY Giants and the Truxton Giants to raise money for this monument. Billed as the “Greatest Sporting Event in Cortland County,” the game attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators at $1.10/ticket. The Truxton Giants did not win, of course, but managed to score a run in the bottom of the ninth against the mighty NY Giants, final score 8-1.
John J. McGraw was born into working class poverty in Truxton on April 7, 1873. He lost his mother and three siblings to the 1884-85 diphtheria epidemic and left his home at age twelve after a severe beating from his heavy drinking father. John moved across the street to the Truxton House Inn (where the town gas station now resides) and was raised by the owner, a kindly widow. John began his baseball career here at age sixteen as star pitcher for the local Truxton Grays.
After a foray in the minors and exhibition games, McGraw joined the Baltimore Orioles in 1891 to become the league’s best leadoff hitter. He ranked just behind baseball greats Ted Williams and Babe Ruth with an on base percentage of .466. McGraw was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1900 with a negotiated salary of $10,000, the highest in baseball history, and hit .344 in 99 games.
Called “Little Napoleon” in public and “Muggsy” behind his back (he hated the name, a reference to his in-your-face jutting jaw), McGraw relished his storied career as tough manager of the NY Giants. He led the Giants to ten National League pennants and three World Series during his tenure, and that included 21 first or second place finishes.
Fellow contemporary and legendary manager Connie Mack is quoted as saying, “There has been only one manager - and his name is McGraw.”