I remember the first time I watched Field of Dreams. It was like magic from the opening scene in the cornfield to the closing shot of all the headlights in the distance. One of the real joys of Field of Dreams was watching Burt Lancaster in the role of former NY Giants ball player, Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. It was absolutely mesmerizing.
What I didn’t know at the time was Moonlight Graham was a real ball player. The author went to great pains to weave his story into the book.
Graham was born November 10, 1879, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He played college ball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in the minor leagues for three years before joining the Giants on May 23, 1905. On June 29, the Giants were the visiting team against the Brooklyn Superbas at Washington Park.
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 when 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. That game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.
After playing in the minor leagues (mostly in the Class B New York State League and New England League) through the 1908 season, Graham completed his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1905. While there, played on the school’s 1904 and 1905 baseball teams. He obtained his license the following year and began practicing medicine in Chisholm, Minnesota.
“Doc” Graham, as he became known after his career as a ballplayer, served the people of Chisholm for fifty years. From 1915 to 1959, Graham was the doctor for the Chisholm schools. The Graham Scholarship Fund, established in his honor, provides financial assistance to two Chisholm High School graduating seniors each year. The award is given to one boy and one girl, $500 to each. For many years, “Doc” Graham made arrangements to have used eyeglasses sent to his Chisholm office. On Saturdays, he would have the children of the Iron Range miners, from Grand Rapids to Virginia, come to his office, have the their eyes checked and then fit them with the proper set of glasses, all free of charge.
Graham died in Chisholm in 1965. He is buried in Rochester, Minnesota.
They told his story in the movie. I thought it was fiction. Knowing it was true gives it unbelievable magic.
Field of Dreams Trivia:
In the scene where Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are sitting in the bleachers at Fenway Park, future stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are sitting in the stands as extras. Neither get any real camera time in the shot and I have been unable to find corroborating photos.[/box]