Baseball games are like snowflakes and fingerprints, no two are ever alike.
~W. P. Kinsella
‘God what an outfield,’ he says. ‘What a left field.’ He looks up at me, and I look down at him. ‘This must be heaven,’ he says.
‘No. It’s Iowa,’ I reply automatically. But then I feel the night rubbing softly against my face like cherry blossoms; look at the sleeping girl-child in my arms, her small hand curled around one of my fingers; think of the fierce warmth of the woman waiting for me in the house; inhale the fresh-cut grass small that seems locked in the air like permanent incense; and listen to the drone of the crowd, as below me Shoelss Joe Jackson tenses, watching the angle of the distant bat for a clue as to where the ball will be hit.
‘I think you’re right, Joe,’ I say, but softly enough not to disturb his concentration.
~W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe
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.
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.