The Moonlight Men of Baseball
The movie, Field of Dreams, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. As part of the celebration, I attended a Chicago White Sox game after which the movie was shown on the centerfield scoreboard. The main baseball player featured in the movie is Shoeless Joe Jackson, well known member of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox.
Another baseball player appearing in the movie was Archie “Moonlight” Graham, played by Burt Lancaster. The movie brought to the spotlight his very brief and somewhat unlucky Major League career with the New York Giants. On June 29, 1905, he was put into the lineup as the right fielder in the last two innings of a lopsided 11-1 game against Brooklyn. Archie was left in the batter’s box at the end of the top of the 9th inning. This would be his best chance to bat in the Majors as this would be his one and only game in the Big Leagues.
Doc Graham had planned for another career. He graduated from the Maryland School of Medicine just a month prior to his Major League debut. In 1908 he retired from professional baseball to pursue a medical career on a full time basis. A respiratory ailment hastened his departure from baseball. He did his residency in Chicago and specialized in ear, nose and throat ailments of children.
While at a medical conference in Rochester, Minnesota, Doc became impressed with the rural lifestyle that Minnesota offered and established his medical practice in Chisolm a small mining town 100 miles north of Minneapolis. He did research on children’s health issues and became the Chief Physician of the Chisolm Public School District, a position he held until his death in 1965.
So how often has a Major League player appeared in only one game and been left on the bench without chance to bat, like Moonlight. By making a search through Baseball-Reference.com, a website database of every Major League player, I have been able to identify 38 position players that appeared on the field in 1 game but never had a chance to bat. In honor of Doc Graham, I refer to these players listed below as the Moonlight Men of Baseball.