Each year Watching Durham Bulls Baseball recognizes the hitter and pitcher who have 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, all negative. Not considered are players who come through on a rehab assignment, played only in post-season (did not apply this year, obviously), or (for the pitcher) a position player thrown to the wolves at the end of a game.
The 2016 Winners
Left-hand hitting infielder Alec Sole came up from the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs to play in three games, all at third base, and all against the Gwinnett Braves, on August 5, 6, and 7. He did not manage to get a hit in 8 plate appearances, but he did draw a walk. He went from Durham to Double-A Montgomery. In Montgomery, he only played in 8 games before going on the disabled list. Just 23 years old, he will likely be back in the Rays system next year. By the way, Sole had a similar short visit with the Bulls in 2015. He came up from the Bowling Green Hot Rods for two games in September. [stats] [background]
Right-Handed Reliever Kyle Winkler came up from the Montgomery Biscuits to appear in one game on July 9th against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He pitched 1⅓ innings in relief, giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks. However, he did get the win. In Montgomery, he had a 2.59 ERA in 29 appearances and 31 innings. Very likely the highlight of his year came when he struck out the side to wrap up a 4-pitcher, 7-inning no-hitter against the Jackson Generals on July 11. [box] Winkler was involved in a trade in 2015 that sent him from the Rays system to the LA Angels system. He was released early this year and went to independent ball. He came back into the Rays system in June. [stats]
Congratulations to Alec and Kyle! Good luck in 2017!
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, Graham played two innings in the major leagues as a right fielder for the New York Giants in 1905. He never came to bat. You can look it up. He went 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, the 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 Amazon.
Canadian author W.P. Kinsella recently died and was remembered at his website and elsewhere.