On this day, June 29, 1905, Moonlight Graham played in the only game of his major league career. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham’s short career is significant because its a central storyline in W.P. Kinsella’s book Shoeless Joe, which was the basis for ( in my opinion) the greatest baseball movie ever made, Field of Dreams. Here is his MLB career line:
The story of Moonlight Graham was depicted semi-accurately in the movie:
On June 29, the Giants were the visiting team against the Brooklyn Superbas. For the bottom of the eighth inning, Graham was sent in to play right field, replacing George Browne. In the top of the ninth inning, Graham was on deck (scheduled to be the next batter) when his teammate Claude Elliott flied out resulting in the third and final out. Graham played the bottom of the ninth in right field but never came to bat, and that game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.
After his short visit to the majors, Moonlight completed his medical degree and moved to Chisholm, MN where he served that town as “Doc” Graham for close to 50 years. In the movie Field of Dreams, Burt Lancaster brilliantly plays “Doc” Graham in one of the great sequences in movie history. One of my favorite lines from “Doc” Graham:
Well, you know I… I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn’t. That’s what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases – stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That’s my wish, Ray Kinsella. That’s my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?
The way Lancaster delivers this line is amazing. You can see the twinkle in his eye and you get the feeling that he is just dying to jump into the batter’s box. So on this June 29th, pay an ode to “Moonlight” Graham, and to the idea that you can achieve what you want, even if it is for only half an inning in the field.