Doc "Moonlight" Graham

Several weeks ago I received an e-mail from a viewer who asked why I didn't do an article on "Moonlight" Graham. I responded by saying that I was embarrassed but I didn't know who "Moonlight" Graham was and would he please tell me about him.

The viewer then asked if I had seen the movie "Field of Dreams." Well, I don't watch movies as much as I suspect most people do, so I had to admit that I had not seen the movie even though I had heard numerous reference to it. The viewer suggested that I go out and rent the movie that very afternoon because he was sure I would like it and then I would have a better understanding of just who "Moonlight" Graham was. He also said there was a UNC connection which increased my interest in "Doc" or "Moonlight", take your choice.

I did rent the movie that afternoon and I now feel comfortable that I probably know who "Doc" or "Moonlight" Graham was more so than most people. After I made the acquaintance of ole "Moonlight", the viewer lived up to his word and gave me information that enhanced my interest in the character played by Burt Lancaster in the movie.

The viewer said that "Moonlight" was from Fayetteville and that he was reasonably sure he played baseball at Carolina. The problem, according to the viewer, was that he couldn't confirm that he had played at Carolina. Now most of us alums can't just take off and go to the Hill every time there is something we would like to research, so I could relate to his frustration. There are always extenuating circumstances like a wife that doesn't want you to travel alone and isn't always available herself to accompany you, offices being closed on Saturdays or nights when trips are usually taken for sporting events, etc. I decided, however, I would pursue Doc even though the odds appeared to be against realizing success.

Before I could even get started (sometimes I sound like Andy Griffith when I not trying to- guess it's in my roots ) I received an e-mail from the viewer with exciting news. There had appeared in the Charlotte Observer shortly after he initially contacted me an article that stated Doc Graham had, in fact, played baseball at UNC. This was the first time he had ever seen in print what he had heard for years and to say he was pleased would be an understatement. Details are hard to come by but I'm not finished with this one yet. Soon I'm going to drive down to Chapel Hill and spend a day in the offices of the Daily Tar Heel and see what else I can find out about Doc.

For those who can't remember the role played by Doc in the movie, he opted to become a Doctor instead of a major league ball player. He only played in one half of an inning in the majors and never came to bat. That doesn't matter. He was in the "bigs" and he did something we all admire and probably wouldn't have had the courage to do ourselves The last time I remember a major league ball player becoming a doctor was Bobby Brown, third baseman for the New York Yankees back when I was much younger. His route to becoming a doctor was a little different in that he didn't really forsake his ball playing career for medicine, he combined his training with his playing days and I believe finished his medical education after his playing days were over.

Maybe I should have delayed writing this article until I finished my research but the little known fact that Doc played for Carolina and the desire to share this information with fellow Tar Heels got the better of me. When I finish pursuing this topic I will share with you any additional information I discover.