Remember that spine-tingling scene at Fenway Park, when the whispering voice in Field of Dreams spoke to Ray Kinsella and Terence Mann? “Go the distance.” They were the only two who saw the scoreboard display: ‘Archibald Moonlight Graham, Chisholm Minn, New York Giants, 1922, Lifetime Statistics: 1 Game, 0 At Bats’. Neither man knew the meaning of the message, nor did they have a clue who Moonlight Graham was. Until 1989, nobody knew who Moonlight Graham was–except a small group of people in the cold, blustery mining town of Chisholm, Minnesota.
On June 29, 1905, in the bottom of the eighth inning, during a game between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Superbas (forerunner of the Dodgers) in Brooklyn’s Washington Park, New York Giants manager John McGraw pointed a bony finger in Archie Graham’s direction and said, “Right field!” Two strikeouts and a lazy fly ball later, it was the top of the ninth and an outside chance for Graham to bat. After a pop-up to short and a strikeout, it looked like Graham’s first opportunity to bat in the major leagues was slipping away. But reserve catcher Boileryard Clarke hit a home run to left center, bringing Graham to the on-deck circle. It was from there he watched as pitcher Claude Elliott ended the game on a pop-up to second base. A week later, Graham’s contract was sold to the Scranton Miners of the New York State League, and Moonlight Graham never played another major league baseball game.
Doc Graham may not have been a star in baseball, but he did find major-league stardom in the halls of medicine. In 1926, Graham began a 15-year study of childhood blood pressure involving more than 25,000 Chisholm students. Before his career was over, Doc’s data spanned 30 years and involved 50,000 children. In 1945, Graham’s findings were published in the the April issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children. So valuable was the data contained in Doc’s article that it became required reading for every medical student in every medical school around the world. To this date, Graham’s research data remains on file for use by Mayo Clinic researchers.
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