Wednesday, June 29, 2005

If Moonlight Graham had winked.

It's been widely reported this week that today is the 100th anniversary of Archibald "Moonlight" Graham's one game in the majors, made famous by W.P Kinsella's book "Shoeless Joe" and its movie adaptation "Field of Dreams" (to everyone except Barry Bonds, who says he's never seen it). Moonlight Graham really did play only one game, and never got to bat, although it wasn't actually the last day of the season. In the movie, he laments not getting to step into the batter's box, stare down the pitcher, and wink at him like he knew something the pitcher didn't. He gets his chance to live that fantasy in the magical Iowa cornfield-turned-ball-field (later renamed John Deere field at Dreamworks park), and the pitcher responds with a knockdown pitch at his head.
Well, nearly 50 years ago, on August 20th, 1955, the Philadelphia Phillies signed an 18 year old amateur from Jackson Heights, New York named Fred Van Dusen. 22 days later, on September 11th, the Phillies were playing a double header against the Milwaukee Braves and Van Dusen finally got in a game. He stepped up to the plate. Whether he gave the pitcher a funny look or not I don't know. The pitcher may have just lost control. Or maybe he just wanted to scare an 18 year old rookie. Van Dusen got hit by a pitch, never got another plate appearance, and never played a major league game again. Worse yet, he never got to play in the field so the only time he touched the ball in a Major League game was when it hit him.
He retired with a 1.000 OBP.
So, I nominate Fred Van Dusen for the next roster at the Field of Dreams. The record books don't even list what position he played, so I don't know if his dream was to prowl the grass in the outfield, or stand on the infield dirt ready to stab his glove at a line drive. Maybe he was a catcher and just wanted to feel the snap of a third strike in his glove, or gun down a runner trying to steal second. But, the record books also don't list a date of death and he'd only be 68 this July, so maybe someone knows him and can tell us. When he finally gets his turn playing the field, and his spot comes around in the batting order, we'll make sure he's wearing a helmet and a sturdy elbow pad.

If Van Dusen continued his prolific plunk rate for as many games as Craig Biggio has played, with as many plate appearances as Biggio has had, he'd have 10,992 plunks.

4 other players recorded only 1 career plate appearance and were hit by a pitch that one time at the plate. However, Charlie Faust pitched 2 innings and appeared in 2 games. Cy Meris pitched 3 and 2/3 innings. Harvey Grubb recorded one put-out at 3rd base, and Abraham Lincoln "Ham" Wade recorded 2 put-outs as an outfielder.



At 6/29/2005 02:01:00 PM, Blogger mikeandtim said...

this is the greatest blog ever. nicely done. i am a huge astros fan (grew up in houston) and still say "it's the 'Stros year" at the beginning of every season.

if you ever get really bored, (after biggio finally retires) check out:


At 6/29/2005 04:13:00 PM, Anonymous Oswaltbabe said...

#268 By Kim in the 4th inning!!!!

At 6/29/2005 07:09:00 PM, Blogger The Dynamic Hispanic said...

I looked it up and found out that Van Dusen was in fact an outfielder for the '55 Philadelphia Phillies. I am a HUGE 'Stros fan and find this blog very interesting. Keep up the good work.

At 6/30/2005 07:14:00 AM, Anonymous davery said...

"Charlie Faust pitched 2 innings and appeared in 2 games." Charles Victory Faust had a great run as a player with the Giants. Neat summary of it in the Book The Glory Of Their Times.

At 4/21/2006 09:07:00 PM, Anonymous rk said...

My Uncle is Fred VanDusen. He is alive and well.


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