Gooch, Lee

Position: Left field
Birthplace: Oxford

First, Middle Names: Lee Currin
Date of Birth:  Feb 23, 1890   Date and Place of Death: May 18, 1966, Raleigh, NC
Burial: Wake Forest Cemetery, Wake Forest, NC

High School: Horner Military School, Oxford
College: Wake Forest University, Wake Forest, NC; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-0, 190
Debut Year: 1915       Final Year: 1917          Years Played: 2
Teams and Years: Cleveland Indians, 1915; Philadelphia Athletics, 1917

 Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
19       61        18       4          8          1          .295     .338     .377       0.2

Lee Gooch was worried. Wake Forest College invited him to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1960 to manage a team of baseball alumni against the varsity squad. It was the school’s way to honor one of its most-illustrious coaches, the skipper who had won more than 60 games in two glorious seasons, coming just shy of a national baseball championship. He had made the little Baptist school, then still in its hometown of Wake Forest, North Carolina, the talk of the state.[1]

But it was only two seasons more than a decade earlier and Gooch, 70, wondered whether anyone would remember or care. He had arrived early at Ernie Shore Field and fretted, nervously chain smoking while pacing the dugout as the stadium slowly filled.

The place was packed when the announcer finally got around to introducing the participants. The fans applauded generously when each player took his place along the foul line. “When the announcer called his name, Gooch removed his hat and his white hair glistened in the sun,” a newspaper reported. “The cheers were long and loud, a moment of emotion at a homecoming at the ballyard.”

Gooch let the applause shower over him, his body rigid, his face firm. They remembered. He fought back tears as he returned to the dugout.  “Here,” he said, handing his half-filled pack of cigarettes to a bystander, “take these things. I quit smoking, on doctor’s orders, years ago.”[I]

Lee Currin Gooch was born in 1890 on the family farm outside Oxford, the seat of Granville County. His father, Daniel, died when Gooch was a teenager. His mother, Mary Alice, or Allie, moved her large family of nine children to town, where she ran a boarding house.

Gooch played baseball and football for four years at Horner Military School in Oxford.[2] He graduated in 1912 at age 22, old for a high-school senior. He entered Wake Forest, then in neighboring Wake County, and was the leading hitter on the 1913 team that won a state championship. It’s puzzling, then, that the team’s hitting star would leave for the University of North Carolina. Before reporting to Chapel Hill in the fall of 1914, Gooch played outfield for the Winston-Salem Twins, his first professional team.

Newspaper reports imply that Gooch wasn’t happy about his lack of playing time at UNC and quit before the season ended to sign with the Durham, North Carolina, Bulls in the old North Carolina State League.

He got his first taste of the major leagues in 1915 when he appeared in two games for the Cleveland Indians. He hung around a little longer two years later, playing in 19 games for the Philadelphia Athletics. He was released and spent the rest of the season playing or managing for minor-league clubs in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina.

A war in Europe then intruded. Gooch was drafted in September 1917 and assigned to the Army’s 81st Infantry Division at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. Before being shipped to the Western Front the following August, Sgt. Gooch married Mary Holding, a local Wake Forest girl he had met while in school.

The division was at the front lines near Verdun, France, in early November 1918. Gooch, by then a second lieutenant, was with the 322nd Regiment that captured the ruined village of Moranville on the morning of November 9. Though it suffered heavy casualties, the regiment had to withdraw to a safer position by nightfall. It was preparing to try again two days later when the battlefield went eerily silent. The armistice had been signed. The war was over. The division returned to the United States in June 1919.

Gooch spent the next 10 years playing and managing in the minors, first in such far-off places like Maine and Washington state and later closer to his home in Oxford and then nearby Henderson, North Carolina: Greensboro, Durham, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount. As a player, he was known for his potent bat and slick outfield defense. Only twice did his average dip below .300, and he hit three home runs in a game in 1927. He won two pennants as a manager and even tried his hand coaching the kids at Trinity College, now Duke University, in Durham for one season.

Approaching 40 in 1929, Gooch retired from baseball to spend fulltime on his second career, the one that paid the bills. He had managed or owned tobacco warehouses in the offseasons since the early 1920s.

Gooch had been out of baseball for two decades when he took over the Wake Forest team in 1949. He said that he was “glad to get back to my first love.”[II] He also said he liked his club’s chances. He inherited a veteran team with 15 returning players, including future All-America’s Charlie Teague at second base and Gene Hooks at third. Russell Batchelor, the conference’s best catcher, was back, as was a trio of savvy pitchers: Vernon “Deacon” Mustian, Moe Bauer and Harry Nicholas.

The team sent a message in the opener by pounding out 15 hits in trouncing Randolph Macon College, 14-1. The umpires mercifully called it off after five innings because of heavy rain. They followed that up with another 15 hits, including four homers, in an 11-5 walloping of Cornell University. Two Deacon pitchers then combined to toss a no-hitter against Lumberton’s minor-league team. Wake Forest beat them 17-0 two weeks later.

The winning streak reached 20, one of the longest in collegiate history in the state. Their games were drawing overflow crowds. Good pitching and harmony were the ingredients of success, their rotund coach said. “There’s not the least bit of friction,” Gooch noted. “When a sub goes in, he slapped on the back by the man he replaces. There’s hustle, spirit, fight and scrapping on every play. The boys go all out to win.”[III]

Wake Forest ended up 38-6. Against college teams, it lost only two games. The runaway winner of the Southern Conference faced Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA double-elimination tournament. Wake won two straight. The heavily favored University of Southern California, the defending national champion, was next. The Deacons won two 2-1 thrillers, both going extra innings, to advance to Wichita, Kansas, for the final round. No North Carolina college baseball team had ever advanced so far. Only the UNC basketball team in 1946 had been the runner up in a national collegiate tournament.[3]

The formidable Texas Longhorns, a perennial baseball powerhouse, proved to be too much. They handed Wake its worst drubbing of the year in the first game, getting 15 hits on the way to a 8-1 victory. The second game was even worst, a 10-3 loss.

More than a thousand fans, though, greeted the Deacons when they landed at Raleigh-Durham Airport after the tournament. Their coach, though, wasn’t with them to bask in the applause. He followed on a train. Like a lot of baseball players, Gooch was very superstitious. He carried a rabbit’s foot wherever he went, never rode on airplanes and wouldn’t allow photographers in the dugout during games.[IV]

The Deacons again had the class of the conference in 1950, and everyone expected them to repeat as champions. Many thought they would win it all this time. Though it won 31 more games and the Southern Conference, the team faltered in the first round of the NCAA tournament, losing to eventual champion University of Alabama.

After two championship seasons, amassing 69 wins in 81 games, Gooch retired. He was 60 and getting too old, he said. The tobacco warehouses needed his attention, he said.

He and Mary lived their final years in Wake Forest. She died in 1959. Gooch died of a heart attack seven years later.

Footnotes
[1] Founded in 1834 in Wake Forest, the school moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1956.
[2] James Hunter Horner opened a secondary school on the outskirts of Oxford in 1855. His nephew, Jerome Horner, turned it into a military school in 1880. It was a great success until a fire burned down the barracks in 1913, the year after Lee Gooch graduated. It reopened in Charlotte, North Carolina, a year later and officially closed in 1920. (Anderson, Jean B. “Horner School,” NCPedia, 2006. https://www.ncpedia.org/horner-school).
[3] The 1949 tournament was the third NCAA-sanctioned tournament to determine a national baseball champion. The championship round was played for the first and only time in Wichita, KS. It moved to Omaha, NB, in 1950 where it’s been ever since.

References
[I] Helms, Herman. “Homecomings, at 76, Can Be Painful.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, April 10, 1960.
[II] “Gooch Named Deacon Coach for Baseball.” News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), Feb 13, 1949.
[III] Associated Press. “Gooch Attributes Wake’s Success to Team Spirit.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, May 11, 1949.
[IV] Garrison, Wilton. “Wilton Garrison’s Sports Parade.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, February 24, 1951.

 

 

Andrews, Nate

Player Name: Andrews, Nate
Position: Starting pitcher
Birthplace: Pembroke

First, Middle Names: Nathan Hardy
Date of Birth:  Sept. 30, 1913 Date and Place of Death: April 26, 1991, Winston-Salem, NC
Burial: Rowland Cemetery, Rowland, NC

High School: Rowland High School, Rowland, NC
Colleges: Presbyterian Junior College, Maxton, NC; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-0, 195
Debut Year: 1937       Final Year: 1946          Years Played: 8
Teams and Years: St. Louis Cardinals, 1937, 1939; Cleveland Indians, 1940-41; Boston Braves, 1943-45; Cincinnati Reds, 1946; New York Giants, 1946

Award: All-Star, 1944

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
127     41       54      2          3.46     773.1   216     8.5

Maybe it was happening. Maybe Nate Andrews was finally rediscovering the form that had made him a formidable pitcher back in Chapel Hill, that kid who had no-hit Wake Forest. He was a 29-year-old righty with a wicked curve, who had battled his waistline, booze, and bad luck in his first four seasons in the big leagues. He had been up and down from the minors and had just one major-league victory to his credit and an earned-run average, or ERA, approaching 8.00.

No one on the Boston Braves expected much from him when the 1943 season began. Everyone’s attention was drawn elsewhere, to a war in Europe and on pieces of rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that no one had ever heard of. With little notice, the guy with the 8.00 ERA won four of his first five starts, limiting opponents to less than two runs a game.

Then, it started. On May 23, he pitched nine innings of shutout ball, only to lose 1-0 when he surrendered a run in the 10th. He lost the next three games, also each by a run. The hard-luck losses kept piling up. When the season ended, Andrews had 20 of them. With a 2.57 ERA – the lowest of any 20-game loser in history – he deserved better. Sixteen of those losses came in games when the anemic Braves scored two or fewer runs. When his teammates briefly awoke to score at least three, Andrews was 11-4.

He rebounded to have an All-Star season the following year, but his odd, erratic behavior – one has to presume triggered or enhanced by alcoholism – forced Andrews to end his major-league career. He had a losing record, but his lifetime 3.46 ERA ties him for 15th place among North Carolinians who pitched at least 500 innings.

The middle of three surviving children, Nathan Hardy Andrews Jr. was born in 1913 in Pembroke in Robeson County. Founded on the rail lines to Charlotte and Wilmington, the community was called Scuttletown during Andrews’ childhood because it was a good place to get into a fight.[1] His father, Nathan Sr., was a country doctor who dispensed care for chickens, eggs, hams, and whatever else patients had to barter. His mother, Leona, was known as a stern disciplinarian. A music teacher, she passed her love for song to her eldest son, who became adept with various musical instruments.

Baseball, though, was Andrews’ passion. He started pitching during his senior year at Rowland High School and then at Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton, North Carolina.[2] He was also the fullback for the football team. Andrews transferred to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1933, the year he threw that no-hitter against Wake Forest College. He would always consider it his greatest achievement in baseball.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed him the following year, and Andrews would toil in their minor leagues for he next six seasons. The Cardinals that year made their fifth World Series appearance in nine years mostly on the strength of their pitching. They simply didn’t need him. He also irritated the team’s manager and coaches by being overweight and not always in top physical condition. He had pitched nine forgettable innings for the big-league club in 1937.[I]

Andrews responded to the criticism by shedding 15 pounds in 1939 and reporting early to the Cardinals’ training camp in Columbus, Ohio. He won 17 games that season for the farm club in Rochester, New York, and started in the American Association All-Star Game.

That led to a second call-up in mid-summer. Andrews expected to be plugged into the Cardinals’ starting rotation. Manager Ray Blades stuck him in the bullpen, instead, where he got shelled. Words were exchanged in a heated quarrel, and the Cardinals traded Andrews to their poor sisters, the Browns, at the end of the season. “[Nate] was the best pitcher in the American Association,” said Browns’ general manager Bill DeWitt. “He came up expecting to be pitched regularly. He didn’t do so well after the first game, then was thrown into the [bullpen as] a relief pitcher. It hurt his pride [and he] became sulky. He quarreled with Ray Blades and broke training. That’s how we happened to get him. He was a swell pickup for the money. Mind you, he’s really not a bad actor, just a victim of circumstances.”[II]

“Broke training” may indeed be a euphemism. He started drinking.

Andrews would never pitch for the Browns, who sold him to the Cleveland Indians in 1940. The next two years were difficult. He was suspended for more “training” violations. The Indians, for instance, left him in Florida in March 1941 for violating “training rules” in Cuba where the team had played a series of exhibition games.

His drinking also led to problems at home. His wife, Ellen, whom everyone called Virginia, left him for a time, taking their daughter with her. A farm girl from nearby Fairmont, North Carolina, she met her distant cousin at a barn dance. The couple got married in 1936. She alleged in court papers three years later that Andrews had become a “habitual drunkard” and that she “lives in constant fear of bodily harm.” She ask the court for $100 a month to support their daughter, Virginia Dare. She said Andrews paid only $45 a year to help the family.[III]

Andrews was living in South Carolina when he registered for the draft in 1940 and listed his father as a contact. There’s no evidence, however, that the couple was legally divorced. In fact, they would have two more children together.

After a brief stop in Cincinnati, Andrews found himself with the Braves to start the 1943 season. “We may be able to get out of seventh place,” Manager Casey Stengel said of the new arrival.[IV]  They did. The Braves finished sixth that year despite the new guy losing 20 games.

Andrews revived the following year, winning 16 games – the most on the staff – and pitching in the All-Star Game for a league that lost most of its stars to war. It was a remarkable comeback for a pitcher who was a wreck when he reported to Braves’ camp in Connecticut in March. He was drinking, taking “nerve pills” and enduring columns of bad publicity. He was pale, weak and unsteady. All he could do was lob the ball wildly to the pitcher.

He started attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and soon became the prize example for the Boston AA chapter. Andrews spoke often at meetings, and leaders later said he probably saved 150 alcoholics that summer.

Good natured and well-liked by his teammates, Andrews was open about his alcoholism and vowed to stay off the stuff this time. “The last time I went off the wagon three years ago, I swapped a brand new Gladstone bag for a two-dollar bottle of corn,” he said.[3][v]

To pass the time on long road trips, he bought books to read instead of whiskey to drink. During a dugout conversation about how many beers a man could drink at one sitting, Andrews said, “My own personal record is 50 pints in a day. I didn’t drink it because I liked it, but to put the fire out.”[VI]

That fire must have burned out of control in 1945. That was the year Andrews became what the Boston newspapers called the “lost pitcher.” He disappeared three times during the season without telling anyone. Once, relatives called the Braves to let the team know that Andrews had come home. In August, he failed to show up to pitch the opener of a doubleheader. He later claimed to have a sore arm and decided not to report to the ballpark. “I’ve pitched good ball for this club for three years,” he said. “I’m no goldbrick. I’ll do my share. My arm was sore today and I knew I couldn’t have pitched so what was the use of going out there.”[VII]

A week later, the Braves sold Andrews to the Reds for the $7,500 waiver fee. Reds Manager Bill McKechnie thought Andrews could win “if he could be induced to abstain.”[VIII] He didn’t show up for 10 days and was given permission to go home for the rest of the season. He promised to make a fresh start the next year.

Andrews pitched for two teams in 1946, his last in the major leagues, and wasn’t good with either. In a June game, the Cardinals were slapping him around. Red’s catcher Ray Lamanno called time and walked out to the mound.

“Do you feel all right, Nate?” he asked his pitcher.

“I’m all right, Ray,” Andrews replied. “I ain’t got no pain; I ain’t got no misery” – and then after a pause, “and I ain’t got nuthin’ on the ball.”[IX]

The Reds traded him to the New York Giants. He voluntarily walked away from the majors soon after. “I came home … of my own accord,” he explained. “I decided I had had enough of the Big Show and the time had come for me to return to North Carolina, where I could be with my family. I had a lot of years up there and too many away from home.”[X]

Andrews played, coached or managed in the minors for two more years. He also worked in the family drugstore, later opened his own dry-cleaning business and scouted for the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s.

He moved  in 1959 to work for a dry cleaner in Stokes County, North Carolina. After retiring he volunteered for a senior-citizens group in Stokes and advocated for programs for the elderly.

Late in life, poor circulation required the amputation of both legs below the knees. Andrews died in 1991 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Footnotes
[1] Pembroke is now the center of culture for the Lumbee Indians, a state-recognized tribe.

[2] Presbyterian Junior College merged with Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, North Carolina, in 1958. A groundbreaking ceremony was held the next year in Laurinburg, North Carolina, for the campus of the new school, now called St. Andrews University.
[3] By Andrews day, Gladstone bags were long considered the epitome of fashionable travel. Made in England, the bag was a kind of suitcase built on a rigid frame that could be split into two separate parts.  It was usually made of very strong leather and was often ‘tied’ with lanyards also made of leather. (Gladstonebag.com, https://web.archive.org/web/20091031082308/http://www.gladstonebag.com/).

References
[I] Evans, Louis. “Rowland’s Nate Andrews Coming Back as Hurler.” Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), April 10, 1939.
[II] Skelton, David E. “Nate Andrews.” Society for American Baseball Research. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/nate-andrews/.
[III] “Alimony Suit Filed Against Nate Andrews.” Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), November 20, 1939.
[IV] Skelton.
[V] Kaese, Harold. “Nate Andrews Merits Best Comeback Award.” Boston (MA) Globe, November 30, 1944.
[VI] Ibid.
[VII] “Andrews Repeats Act.” Des Moines (IW) Tribune, Aug. 17, 1945.
[VIII] Husted, Bob. “The Referee.” Dayton (OH) Herald, March 28, 1946.
[IX] Skelton.
[X] O’Brien, Frank. “Move From Majors to Class D ‘Own Idea,’ Says Nate Andrews. Sporting News (St. Louis, MO), August 21, 1946.

 

 

Graham, Moonlight

Player Name: Graham, Moonlight
Position: Right field

Birthplace: Fayetteville
First, Last Names: Archibald Wright  Nicknames: Moonlight, Doc

Date of Birth:  Nov. 12, 1877 Date and Place of Death: Aug. 25, 1965, Chisholm, MN
Burial: Calvary Cemetery, Rochester, MN

High School: Davidson High School, Charlotte, NC
College: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; University of Maryland-Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

Bats: L             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 170
Debut Year: 1905       Final Year: 1905          Years Played: 1
Team and Years: New York Giant, 1905

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1          0          0          0          0          0          0          .000     .000     0.0

Few baseball fans have ever heard of Johnny O’Connor, Henry Stein, Eddie Hunter, Terry Lyons or any of the other 43 non-pitchers who played in one major-league game but never got a chance to hit. They were in the big leagues just long enough for that proverbial cup of coffee. Their dreams merely patted them on their heads. All but one were quickly forgotten. Because of a mysterious nickname, that exception has achieved baseball immortality.

There’s no evidence that anyone ever actually called Archie Graham “Moonlight” while he was alive. If they didn’t refer to him by his first name, his teammates and sportswriters down in the minors likely called him Doc because that’s what Graham was, a medical doctor. That’s what the townspeople of Chisolm, Minnesota, where he practiced for almost 50 years, called him. The nickname appears in print once, soon after Graham reported to the majors. Where it came from is anyone’s guess. Some have speculated that Graham’s speed had something to do with it. The problem with that explanation, however, is that no standard dictionary suggests that “moonlight” was ever used as slang or in an idiom to describe someone who was fleet of foot. Others think his moonlighting as a doctor in the offseason was the genesis, but he was a licensed physician for only the last two years of his minor-league career.

Whatever the reason, it was “Moonlight” Graham that appeared in the Baseball Encyclopedia that W.P Kinsella received as a Christmas gift. It was Moonlight that caught the novelist’s eye. “I thought, ‘What a wonderful name. This is better than anything I could invent,’” Kinsella remembered decades later.[I]

 A character of that name based on the real Graham appeared in Kinsella’s 1982 novel about Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox star who was expelled from baseball after being suspected of helping throw the 1919 World Series. From the book came the hit movie Field of Dreams seven years later. That’s how it came to pass that an unknown player whose career line consists of a long string of zeros was portrayed by Burt Lancaster no less and grew into a baseball myth more than two decades after his death. There is now a Doc “Moonlight” Graham Festival every August in Chisholm. A Moonlight Graham Scholarship Fund provides college money to deserving high-school students. A biography was written about him and the Moonlight Graham Podcast features athletes who never made it. Moonlight Graham has become the surrogate for every ballplayer who was denied their chance at greatness.

The truth is more mundane. Graham had a few good years in the minor leagues, but there’s nothing in the numbers to suggest a budding superstar. Neither do we really know what he thought about his brief big-league showing or about his baseball or medical careers. There are no surviving letters, no quotes in newspapers. No one wrote about him until the movie was released after he died. That’s one of the problems with post-mortem fame, especially for someone who toiled quietly in the backwater along the Canadian border. Graham’s life, while he was living it, wasn’t considered remarkable enough for his contemporaries to record his thoughts or to preserve details about him. Speculation and myth-making filled the void.

None of that is to suggest that Graham’s life isn’t worth celebrating. He was a beloved town doctor, who got the people of Chisholm though flu epidemics and bouts with cholera. He birthed their babies, comforted their dying. His pioneering research on childhood hypertension was respected by his peers.

There is every indication that once his playing days were over, Dr. Archie Graham never looked back. The mythological figure hints of that in the movie. When asked about his short big-league career, Lancaster’s Graham famously says, “If I‘d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.”

Alexander and Katherine Graham were probably satisfied enough that their second child, Archibald Wright, born in 1877 had become a respected doctor after trying his hand at baseball. Education was important to the Grahams. Alexander had been the captain of the baseball team at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill before the Civil War. He fought with the 3rd North Carolina Regiment and was captured at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina in 1865. He attended Columbia University after the war and became a lawyer. Alexander went home to Fayetteville, where he worked tirelessly to establish a public-school system, serving as its first superintendent.

 At a time when college-educated women were a rarity in North Carolina, Katherine had a degree from Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Grahams sent each of their nine children to college, another rarity. One son became a lawyer. A daughter was a college professor. Frank Porter became president of the University of North Carolina and then a United States senator.

Alexander moved the family to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1888 to become the city’s school superintendent. A firm believer in physical fitness, he expected all his children to complete a daily exercise program. Archie grew up to be best athlete in the family. He played baseball and football on Charlotte sandlots and then at Davidson High School, where he developed an interest in science and medicine.

Like his father, Graham played baseball at UNC, making the varsity team during his sophomore year in 1898. He was the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the next three seasons.

Archie Graham played center field for UNC. Photo: UNC

Graham remained in Chapel Hill for two years after his graduation in 1901 to take courses for medical school. He played minor-league baseball in the summers, probably to earn extra money.

Always an exceptionally fast runner, he bulked up to about 170 pounds when he entered the University of Maryland’s medical school in Baltimore in 1903. He was the school’s halfback on the football team each fall and the centerfielder each spring. Lax rules allowed him to continue in the minor leagues in the summers.

The New York Giants bought Graham’s contract in September 1904 from Manchester, New Hampshire, after he hit .272 that season in the New England League. Graham joined the Giants after graduating from medical school the following May. “He is fast on his feet and a strong hitter,” The New York Evening World reported. “(Manager John) McGraw believes he has in Graham a great find.”[II]

The same newspaper a couple of weeks later used the name that would open the door to fame. The new player, the World reported, “is known as ‘Moonlight’ because he’s supposed to be as fast as a flash.”[III] Before Field of Dreams was released, this is the only reference to Graham and the nickname that appears in online archives that include millions of newspaper pages from every state dating back to the 1860s.

Graham made his debut about a month later, on June 29, against Brooklyn at the Superbas’ Washington Park.[1] McGraw sent the rookie in to play right field in the eighth inning of a lopsided game the Giants would win 11-1. He was in the on-deck circle getting ready to bat when the Giants’ last out was recorded in the top of the ninth.

He went back to bench until July 5 when he was sold to the Scranton Miners of the New York State League. This may have been what’s now called a rehab assignment. The New York Times noted that Graham was “unavailable” to play while with the Giants. That could have meant that a lingering injury, maybe from his football days at Maryland, prevented him from playing. The Miners had an informal working agreement with the Giants and would have sold Graham back to New York when he was healthy enough to play.[IV]

Graham probably killed any hope of returning to the Giants, though, when he skipped the last five games of the Miners’ season to take post-graduate medical courses in Baltimore. The team was more than 15 games out of first, but that wouldn’t have made a difference to McGraw, who demanded loyalty and dedication from players. Though newspapers reported that Graham, who hit .288 in Scranton, would get another chance with the Giants, McGraw left him off the reserve list for the 1906 season. Though he reported to spring training, it was clear that Graham wasn’t going to make the team. He remained with Scranton.

Eddie Ashenbach, a career minor leaguer who managed the Miners that season, remembered a fast, scrappy player. “Graham was not much of a batsman but was chain lightning on the bases and in the outfield,” Ashenbach wrote in his memoirs. “He had some scruples about playing Sunday baseball, his father having strictly forbidden him to play on the Sabbath.”[V]

Ashenbach couldn’t afford having one of his player sit out Sunday doubleheaders, especially on a club playing for a pennant. Graham agreed to play by his middle name Wright. “He was quite a fighter while in the game and his aggressiveness once led him into a fracas on a bright Sunday at Scranton when he and the umpire indulged in a battle of fisticuffs in the middle of the diamond,” Ashenbach wrote. “On another Sunday at Syracuse, Graham, alias Wright, had a glorious day at the bat. Out of four times up, he hit out a home run, two three-base-hits and a single. He was very much pleased at his big day’s work, and after the fourth time at bat he rushed wildly up to the press-box saying to the reporters, “Look here, boys, my name is not Wright today, it’s Graham.” Four hits killed off the alias.”[VI]

It’s important to note that the manager never once referred to his outfielder as “Moonlight.”

Graham was practicing medicine by 1907, when he received his Pennsylvania license.  He opened an office in Scranton and saw patients in the offseason during his final two years in the minors. He intended to make Scranton his home when he retired from baseball after the 1908 season but a chronic respiratory condition forced him to look for a cleaner, drier air.

Soon after his retirement, Graham accepted a residency at a Chicago hospital. He was attending a medical conference at the end of 1908 in Rochester, Minnesota, when he saw an ad in the local paper for a doctor in Chisholm. He wired his resignation to Chicago and boarded a train.

The mining town, 70 miles from the Canadian border in Minnesota’s Iron Range, was the last stop on the line. Connected by rail to Duluth and with plenty of mining work nearby, Chisholm had boomed since its incorporation in 1901. About 6,000 people lived there when Graham got off the train. He didn’t know any of them as walked the streets of a town that smelled of burnt wood. A forest fire several months earlier had destroyed a significant portion of Chisholm. The fire was so bad that many residents had sought refuge in Longyear Lake at the edge of town.

Walking past construction crews rebuilding whole blocks of town, Graham found the hospital and announced himself as Chisholm’s new doctor. He would remain for 57 years.

Dr. Archie Graham provided free eye glasses to the children of Chishol, MN. Photo: Duluth News Tribune

“When he first came here, he was regarded as something of a quack,” Veda Ponikvar, the founder of The Chisholm Free Press and Tribune, told a reporter in 1994.[VII]

Graham soon became the trusted physician to the immigrant miners and their families who had come to America from Croatia, Serbia and other eastern European countries. He became a familiar sight, walking around town in his black, flowing overcoat, its pockets filled with fruits that he’d give to kids that he met. He’d go to local high school games, tending the needs of the injured and treating the home team to a bag of oranges or a crate of apples. He was, they said, “the friendliest man in Chisholm.”[VIII]

For years, people all over the county sent Graham used eyeglasses. Every Saturday, the children of Chisholm could go to Doc Graham’s office for a free eye exam and a pair of glasses. “And there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or clothing,” Ponikvar wrote. “Yet, no child was ever denied these essentials because in the background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the ticket to the ballgame found their way into the child’s pocket.”[IX]

Graham over the years conducted numerous studies on the effects of hypertension in children. He presented his finding in 1941 at a conference at the Mayo Clinic. Two doctors at the conference joined with Graham, and their combined research showed that kids could get high blood pressure, contrary to the then prevailing theory.

Kinsella, who interviewed dozens of townspeople to learn about Graham, was relieved that his subject had such a sterling reputation. “I mean, what I was afraid of, was that this was going to be a guy who sat in the American Legion bar and bragged about playing in the major leagues for 40 years,” the author said.[X]

Graham, who was also the physician for city schools since 1911, was elected to the school board in 1963. In failing health, he retired two years later. He was dead within a month.

Bob McDonald, Chisholm High School’s basketball coach for 50 years, noted that baseball was important to Graham but it was nothing compared to being the town’s doctor. “That’s the big item you see,” he said. “In baseball, you kind of help yourself and you entertain. Athletics are like that, you entertain people. But he comforted people.”[XI]


Footnote
[1] Washington Park, between Third and Fourth avenues on First Street in Park Slope, opened in 1898 and was the second Brooklyn ballpark. It closed in 1912 when Ebbets Field was completed. Part of the clubhouse wall still stands on Third Avenue as a wall for a Con Edison yard. It’s likely the oldest remnant of a major-league ballpark still in existence. (“Washington Park.” Ballparks.com. https://ballparks.com/baseball/national/washin.htm.)

References
[I] Olberman, Keith. “’Moonlight Graham Remembered.” Countdown with Keith Olberman. NBC News, 2013. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/8423741.
[II] Keenan, Jimmy. “Moonlight Graham.” Society for American Baseball Research. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/moonlight-graham/.
[III] Ibid.
[IV] Ibid.
[V] Shieber, Tom. “A Glimpse of Moonlight.” National Baseball Hall of Fame, https://baseballhall.org/discover-more/stories/short-stops/a-glimpse-of-moonlight.
[VI] Ibid.
[
VII] Betts, Jack. “Doctor Moonlight.” Charlotte (NC) Observer, October 23, 1994.
[VIII] Ibid.
[IX] Olberman.
[X] Olberman.
[XI] Olberman

 

Williams, Marsh

Player Name: Williams, Marsh
Position: Starting pitcher, relief pitcher

Birthplace: Faison
First, Last Names: Marshall McDiarmid Jr.    Nicknames: Cap

Date of Birth:  Feb. 21, 1893  Date and Place of Death: Feb. 22, 1935, Tucson, AZ
Burial: Faison Cemetery, Faison

High School: Undetermined
College: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-180
Debut Year: 1916       Final Year: 1916          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Philadelphia Athletics, 1916

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
10        0        6         0          7.89     51.1     17        -2.2

Marsh Williams was among the youngsters Connie Mack recruited from college campuses and brought to Philadelphia in 1916 in a desperate attempt to field a competitive team on the cheap. It was sink or swim, and Williams sank, lasting little more than a month on the worst team in modern baseball history.

He joined the Army a year later and was sent off to France, arriving just before World War I ended. Williams saw no action but was there long enough to contract tuberculosis. He moved to the Southwest where the dry climate made the disease slightly more tolerable. He died there, one day past his 42nd birthday.

Marshall Williams Jr., the second of four brothers, was born in Faison in 1893 to one of the oldest and most-prominent families in Duplin County. His great-great grandfather, it was said, fought with the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, during the revolution. His mother, Mary, who could trace her ancestry back almost to the Mayflower, was a well-known artist whose portraits hung at the State Capitol and whose landscapes depicted idealized scenes of her cherished antebellum South. Mary was also a leader with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, serving for two years as the president of the state chapter.[1]   

Later in life, she came to embody the Old South of the Lost Cause. “On entering the home of Mrs. Marshall Williams one at once feels the touch of that Southern Aristocracy and hospitality,” a newspaper reporter wrote in 1935. “Even before the face of that student of life appears, one can feel the atmosphere of Art and good taste.”[I]

Mary’s husband, Marshall Sr., listed his occupation in the 1900 census as a “logging contractor” and in 1910 as a bank cashier. He retired as president of the bank.

His son and namesake attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he starred on the baseball team. “Connie Mack has recognized in him possibilities of a league pitcher,” the school yearbook noted in 1916.[II]

Williams graduated that spring with a degree in electrical engineer. A couple of months later, he was pitching for Mack’s Athletics. A perennial powerhouse in the American League, the “Mackmen,” as sportswriters were fond of calling the team, had won six pennants and three World Series since the league formed in 1901. Hard times were at hand, though. The team had lost 109 games in 1915 and looked to be even worse as the new season began. Mack, the team’s longtime manager and part owner, recruited a “vast army” of college stars who converged on Philadelphia in the summer of 1916. Otis Lowry, a second baseman from the University of Maine, was one. Pitchers Jing Johnson of Ursinus College, Walter Whitaker of Tufts, and Charley Monohan of Villanova were others. Mack hoped to find a rough gem or two that would add luster to a dull lineup.[III]

The strategy failed miserably. None of the kids amounted to much as the Athletics went on to lose 117 games, while winning only 36. It’s the worst winning percentage since 1900. The team featured three pitchers who lost more than 20 games.[2]

Amid such flailing, Williams’ 0-6 record and 7.89 earned-run average in 51 innings stretched over six weeks doesn’t look so bad. Nevertheless, Mack cut him loose in August, and Williams’ baseball career was over.

He thought he found a new one when he joined the Coast Artillery Corps in March 1917, about a month before the United States officially entered the WWI. All his brothers would eventually enlist in the military.[3]

The corps, a unit of the Army, normally manned coastal fortifications in the United States and its overseas territories, but several of its battalions were sent to France. Williams set sail in October 1918, arriving about a month before Germany surrendered. Though he saw no fighting, he was promoted to captain – hence his nickname — and put in command of his battalion’s billeting camp in western France.[IV]

Williams returned home the following June a sick man. He appeared to want to make the Army his career because he served in several posts after the war, but his tuberculosis worsened and he had to retire in 1922. He was promoted to major eight years later because of a law passed by Congress.

In that era before antibiotics, the standard treatment for tuberculosis included fresh, dry, mountain air, which seemed to ease patients’ suffering and prolonged their lives. TB patients moving to Denver in the late 19th century, for instance, outnumbered gold seekers.

Williams, his wife, Lucy, and their two sons moved to Tucson, Arizona, after his retirement. Mary visited often.

Her son died in 1935, on the day after his birthday, of acute tuberculosis.


Footnotes
[1]The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a heredity association of women that formed in 1894 to commemorate those who fought for the South during the Civil War and to, ostensibly, erect memorials in their honor. Mary Marshall served as president of the state chapter from 1912-14, a time when the UDC was paying to erect Confederate statues in courthouse squares across the state. A century later, those statues triggered unrest in many North Carolina cities and towns. The UDC, many modern historians now say, promoted a sanitized version of the Civil War that minimized the role of slavery and idealized the pre-war South. The statues it erected at the seats of local power went up at a time when Jim Crow laws were being enacted throughout the old Confederacy that re-established White dominance and marginalized Black southerners. Many now view them as symbols of White power, not as war memorials, and demand that they be removed. Mary also chaired the committee that planned the state’s statue on the Gettysburg battlefield.
[2] The A’s compiled a .235 winning percentage. The 1935 Boston Braves (.248) and the 1962 New York Mets (.250) come the closest since 1900 to matching the A’s in futility. The team’s 20-game losers were: Bullet Joe Bush, 24 games; Elmer Myers, 23; and Jack Nabors, 20. Jim Sheehan lost 16.
[3] Lewis Williams, a medical doctor, was an assistant surgeon in the Navy. Rowland and Virginius joined the Army. All survived the war.

References
[I] “Faison’s First Lady Is Known Far and Wide.” Duplin (NC) Times, June 13, 1935.
[II]Yackety Yack (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC), 1916
[III] “Connie Mack’s Recruits Commence to Report.” York (PA) Gazette, June 22, 1916.
[IV] “Mother of Major Williams Gets Letter From War Dept.” Duplin (NC) Times, May 2, 1935.