Saturday, October 12, 2013

2013 Moonlight Graham Award

Each year Watching Durham Bulls Baseball recognizes the hitter and pitcher who has spent the least amount of time in a Durham Bulls uniform. The award is named in honor of North Carolinian Archibald “Moonlight” Graham who famously played only two innings for the New York Giants in 1905, never coming to bat.

We have just a few criteria for selection: Not considered are players who come through on a rehab assignment, played only in postseason, or (for the pitcher) a position player thrown to the wolves at the end of a losing game.

This year we cannot find a position player that really embodies the spirit of the award. Not counting rehabbing Ray Luke Scott, the player with the least amount of playing time was the unfortunate Hak-Ju Lee. Lee, however, did play in 15 games and had 57 plate appearances in his time as a Bull before his injury. So this year we simply won’t make an award for a position player.

That leaves us with …

The 2013 Winner

Pitcher Austin Hubbard

On May 17, 2013 at Frontier Field in Rochester New York, Austin Hubbard came on in relief to begin the 6th inning. The Bulls were behind 5-0 after a disastrous 2nd inning. Hubbard had been called up from the Charlotte Stone Crabs where he’d been doing OK and it was understood that he was just filling in while the Rays sorted out their own bullpen. He did not have a good day: ⅔ inning, 5 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks before leaving in favor of Adam Liberatore and, in the 9th, catcher Craig Albernaz. After that game Hubbard went to Montgomery where he made 28 more appearances in relief for the Biscuits. Stats.

Good Luck in 2014!

About Moonlight Graham

Archibald “Moonlight” Graham achieved lasting fame as a character in the W.P. Kinsella novel, Shoeless Joe, and then became even more famous when he was played by Burt Lancaster (and Frank Whaley) in the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. As a ballplayer in 1905 he played two innings in the major leagues as a right fielder for the New York Giants. He never came to bat. You can look it up. He did, however, go on to a career as a well-loved physician in Chisholm, Minnesota.

Of interest to us is that he was a North Carolina native (born in Fayetteville, grew up in Charlotte); graduated from UNC (where he played baseball); and was the older brother to UNC President and US Senator Frank Porter Graham. If you find him an intriguing character, his Wikipedia article is a good start. There’s a nice NBC piece done on him a few years ago. And then there’s a terrific book by Fayetteville writer (and Bulls fan) Brett Friedlander and Robert Reisling, Chasing Moonlight. Copies of the book are in the Wake and Durham County Library systems, and I found my copy at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

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