By Brett Friedlander and Robert Reising
John F. Blair Publisher
Reviewed by Keith Jones
Anybody who has seen “Field of Dreams” remembers the kindly old doctor played by Burt Lancaster. He was one of the old ballplayers Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) collects along the way for his magical baseball field he built on his farm. The doctor, Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, had made it to the big leagues and managed to reach the field for one inning playing for the New York Giants baseball team, but ended his career in the on-deck circle without ever having his turn at bat.
What a lot of people who watch that movie may not realize is that Dr. Archie Graham was a real man. When author W. P. Kinsella was writing his novel “Shoeless Joe” from which “Field of Dreams” was produced, he discovered the story of Graham’s short entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia. Attracted by the intriguing nickname, Kinsella went visiting to find out more. What he discovered was a man with a fascinating life.
Graham had not only had a brief shot at the majors, but had both before and after a long and full career in the minor leagues while balancing it with medical school. After he was finished with baseball, he had a long career as a town doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota where he found himself almost by accident. Among things even those who knew he was real didn’t know was the fact that his younger brother was the first president of the consolidated state university system of North Carolina.
In “Chasing Moonlight” Friedlander and Reising reveal the rest of the story. Their research is thorough and their storytelling style brings Graham to life in a way even film couldn’t. This book is one of the most well written biographies I have read in a long time if ever. Well worth the read.