Every student at UNC knows Frank Porter Graham. Even if they’re unaware of his status as UNC president, or his tumultuous Senate race against Willis Smith in 1950, they’ve heard his name, which was bestowed on the student union. What I didn’t know until recently (and suspect most other students don’t), is that Frank Porter Graham had a sibling who was, in some circles, even more famous.
Archibald “Moonlight” Graham played baseball for three years at UNC, then in the minor leagues with the Charlotte Hornets. During the 1905 season, he joined the New York (now San Francisco) Giants. On June 29, he was put into right field in the eighth inning of a game against the Brooklyn Superbas. While he was on deck, the Giants’ final out was hit, and Graham never went to the plate. That game turned out to be the first, and last, of his major-league career. Graham went on to medical school at the University of Maryland, and spent his career as a physician in Chisholm, Minnesota, where he died in 1965.
Baseball fans will be familiar with Moonlight Graham’s story: it’s featured in W.P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel Shoeless Joe. The film adaptation of the novel, Field of Dreams, also includes Graham as a major character, keeping his real name and much of his biography. Not only did Field of Dreams become a baseball classic, it aired Archibald “Moonlight” Graham’s interesting, if brief, career to the country.