I just finished reading Chasing Moonlight: The True Story of Field of Dreams, Doc Graham by Brett Friedlander and Robert Reising. If you’re a fan of either the movie, Field of Dreams, or Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella, then you’ll enjoy getting to know the real Moonlight Graham. Actually, if you’re just a fan of baseball history, then you’ll enjoy this book as well.
It’s amazing how someone can play just 1 1/2 innings of baseball without even getting an at bat, and still become a baseball legend. Even more amazing, when that person actually lives up to that legend. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham deserves this book, and deserves his place as a baseball legend.
Some things I learned about Moonlight Graham from this book:
- We are not related.
- He is a distant cousin to televangelist Billy Graham
- WP Kinsella stumbled on his baseball encyclopedia page while doing research for his book Shoeless Joe. He loved the nickname.
- He played 4 seasons with my hometown Scranton Miners of the New York State League.
- He hit .335 with the Miners in 1905, winning the NY State League batting title.
- He played 8 seasons of Minor league baseball.
- He was a left-handed hitter, unlike his movie counterpart.
- His younger brother Frank Porter Graham was approached by FDR to be his vice-presidential running mate in 1936. He turned him down.
- While at the University of North Carolina he was a member of the football and baseball team, as well as the Shakespeare Club.
- He received his medical degree from the University of Maryland.
- He set up a medical practice in Scranton, but left do to health problems. Eventually settling in Chisholm, Minnesota.
- His lone game came on June 29, 1905. He actually spent a couple of weeks with the NY Giants before being sent to the Scranton Miners.
- Married Alecia Madden in September of 1915. They had no children.
- Became the Chisholm school physician in 1917. He retired in 1960.
- His 15 year blood pressure study of adolescent children is still published in modern medical books.
- Spent years trying to build a perpetual motion device.
- He died on Aug. 25, 1965. Alecia passed away in 1981 at the age of 95.
- In a 1963 interview he stated that he walked in his only at bat, and then broke his leg while stealing 2nd.
- Moonlight Graham may have actually played in a barnstorming game against Shoeless Joe Jackson in the mid 1920’s. After his suspension from baseball, Jackson made money by barnstorming around the country. Playing a game in Chisholm, Jackson came to bat with the bases loaded in the 9th inning. He sent a drive deep into the outfield, only to have Doc Graham run down the drive to save the game for Chisholm. There is no definitive proof that this actually happened, but for the purposes of this post, let’s say it did.