In one of my all-time favorite movies, Field of Dreams, these immortal words were spoken by the legendary outfielder, Shoeless Joe Jackson to a young rookie player, (played by Burt Lancaster) Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, as he was leaving the playing field. Graham had just batted and hit a sacrifice fly ball deep into the outfield to score a run. This was Graham’s dream – his only time up to bat.
You see – in real life Graham played college ball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in the minor leagues for three years before joining the Giants on May 23, 1905. On June 29, the Giants were the visiting team against the Brooklyn Superbas. For the bottom of the eighth inning, Graham was sent in to play right field, replacing George Browne. In the top of the ninth inning, Graham was on deck when his teammate Claude Elliott flied out resulting in the third and final out. Graham played the bottom of the ninth in right field but never came to bat, and that game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.
After playing in the minor leagues through the 1908 season, Graham completed his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1908. He obtained his license the following year and began practicing medicine in Chisholm, Minnesota.
“Doc” Graham, as he became known after his career as a ballplayer, served the people of Chisholm for fifty years.
When the star of the film, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) commented that the baseball career and lifelong dream of Moonlight Graham (Burt Lancaster) had lasted only five minutes and would be considered a tragedy by many people, Doc Graham replied, “Son, if I’d only got to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.”
Two thoughts flood my soul as I stare at this photo and think of this movie…
1. I was good. God allowed me the privilege of being a good baseball player. I still get goosebumps when I attend a major or minor league game. Heck – I still want to grab my glove and run out onto the dirt and grass when I watch my son play softball. I loved it. I really loved it. But God had other plans for me, and I am SO thankful He did. My life has been so blessed by an amazing wife and three awesome sons. I am filthy rich with quality friendships, and hope that God uses every day I have left on this “field” for His glory. To have ended my life with “He was a great ball player” on my tombstone – would have been a tragedy indeed. We should all take time to thank God for His plan and purpose for our lives, for our families and for our marriage. It will change our perspective.
2. Who is the Shoeless Joe in your life? We, men, ALL need cheerleaders. We need other men cheering for us, and telling us “hey kid, you’re good” – “you’re doing a good job”. It is the cry of all of our hearts – to be significant, to live a life that matters. Find a Shoeless Joe, and walk with him. There will be a whole in your soul until you do.
Luv you guys,