This day in baseball: Moonlight Graham’s debut

Thanks to the movie Field of Dreams, almost everybody has heard of Moonlight Graham.  As a right fielder for the New York Giants, Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham made his Major League debut on 29 June 1905, at the age of twenty-seven.  In the bottom of the eighth inning against the Brooklyn Superbas, Graham came into the game as a defensive replacement for George Browne.  He never had the opportunity to step up to the plate, however, standing in the on-deck circle as Claude Elliott flied out to end the top of the ninth.  Graham played again defensively in the bottom of the ninth, but never had the chance to record an at-bat as the Giants won 11-1.  It would be his only Major League appearance, as he was sent back to the minors the following day.

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Completing his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1905 (where he also played halfback for the school’s football team in 1904 and 1905), Graham concluded his baseball career in 1908.  He went on to obtain his license and began practicing medicine in Chisholm, Minnesota.  “Doc” Graham served as a good and loyal doctor to the people of Chisholm for fifty years.  He died in 1965.

In 1975, W. P. Kinsella happened to read about Graham’s short-lived baseball career in The Baseball Encyclopedia.  He included Moonlight Graham as a character in his 1982 novel, Shoeless Joe, on which the movie Field of Dreams is based.