Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Midseason Moonlight Graham Awards

Way back in 2009, we established the Watching Durham Bulls Baseball Moonlight Graham Award to recognize the hitter and pitcher who spent the least amount of time in a Durham Bulls uniform that year. We had fun with it. We let the idea lapse a few years ago, but with this two-part season upon us, we thought we'd bring it back as a "mid-season" award. So here we go ...

The 2023 Midseason Watching Durham Bulls Baseball Midseason Moonlight Graham Award recognizes the hitter and pitcher who has spent the least amount of time in a Durham Bulls uniform during the first 75 games of the season. 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, or (for the pitcher award) a position player thrown to the wolves at the end of a game (regrets to catcher Nick Dini who had an inning back on June 8th that did not go well: box).


The Midseason winner in the hitter/position player category is:

Gionti Turner

Right-handed infielder Gionti Turner is from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Twenty-two year-old Turner came to the Bulls from Single-A Bowling Green to play in one game in Charlotte on May 9. Box. He had a decent day, notably participating in 3 double plays. At the plate, he had a single and drew a walk. He then went over to Double-A Montgomery, where he's having a decent year. Reasonably good chance we could see the Arkansawyer again before the year is out.


The midseason winner among the pitchers is:

Alfredo Zárraga

Right-handed reliever Alfredo Zárraga came up from Bowling Green to appear in 2 innings on June 3. He then went back to Bowling Green. The twenty-two year-old Venezuelan didn't have a particularly good day: 2 innings, 3 hits, 1 SO, 1 BB, 1 HR, 2 earned runs. Box. Nevertheless, he's doing ok in Single-A. He could be back as well.

Congrats to Gioti and Alfredo. Hope to see you back in a Bulls uniform!

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, and 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 to be 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

Canadian author W.P. Kinsella died in 2016 and is remembered on his website and elsewhere.

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