‘1883’ Star Tim McGraw’s Emotional Dinner With Dad Tug McGraw Changed Their Relationship Forever

Singer and actor Tim McGraw’s biological father was baseball player Tug McGraw. Tim plays a father in 1883 as James Dutton, father of the Dutton family who would continue into the modern day in Yellowstone. McGraw co-stars with his real-life with Faith Hill, with whom he has three daughters. Tim’s own relationship with Tug was fraught until one emotional dinner they had. 

'1883' star Tim McGraw, son of Tug McGraw, wearing a brown hat and jacket in a scene from the show.
Tim McGraw | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

NPR’s Fresh Air podcast had McGraw as a guest on April 19. After discussing his role on 1883, McGraw answered questions about his relationship with Tug. 

‘1883’ star Tim McGraw met Tug McGraw for what was supposed to be their last dinner 

Tim found out that his biological father was Tug McGraw when he was younger. He attended a baseball game to meet him. By the time he was college age, Tug wanted Tim to sign a contract assuring he would make no more requests for assistance. Tim agreed if Tug would meet him one last time. 

“The first thing I noticed more than anything was his lawyer’s jaw hit the ground because we looked almost exactly alike,” McGraw said. “He was like ‘oh my God, we’re screwed.’ So we talked and we spent the day together, had dinner that night. Mom and I and he were having dinner and I asked Mom if she would mind letting Tug and I talk alone for a minute, a moment alone. She wasn’t too sure about that and I told her that it was OK, it was fine.”

That one-on-one moment between Tim and Tug McGraw changed their relationship.

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“She got up and left and I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Look, as far as I’m concerned this dinner’s over. All this mess is over with. I’m going to sign your contract. I just want you to answer one question. Do you think you’re my dad?’” McGraw said. “And he says, ‘I know I am.’ That was all I needed to know. And then he said, ‘We’re going to tear the contract up.’ So we did.”

Tim and Tug McGraw had a relationship until Tug died 

Tug McGraw died of cancer when he was 59 in 2004. Until then, Tim said they were a family to some extent. Four years after losing Tug, Tim made another life change when he decided to get sober.

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“I wouldn’t say that we had a father/son relationship,” McGraw said. “If we did, it was more me being the father, him being the son if we had a father/son relationship at all. We got close, we were good friends. His older brother, my uncle Frank, we’re close to this day. My two brothers that live in Philly from Tug, we all have different mothers but we’re close. My sister Carrie who’s Tug’s daughter, we’re close so  everybody’s close and we got close.”

The ‘1883’ star has only 1 regret 

Tim said he did still have one regret about his relationship with Tug. 

“When he was dying, I spent a lot of time with him,” McGraw said. “He wanted to come to a cabin on our farm and that’s where he wanted to spend his last days. So we got to hang out with him and spend a lot of time with him. I think the biggest, if you can call it regret, that I have is the time that we got to spend together as he was dying, I sort of waited for him to say something about the whole situation. Some sort of just have a conversation about it. We never had that conversation so I’ll always feel like I missed that part of it.”

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