The KC Royals have had their own ‘Moonlight’ Graham

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

It’s safe to say that most baseball fans rank Field of Dreams among their favorite movies, but how many know one former member of the KC Royals can relate to a certain character more than most?

Archibald “Moonlight” Graham is featured in the 1989 baseball film classic, played as a young man by Frank Whaley and in his old age by Burt Lancaster.

At this point, a spoiler alert is probably appropriate, but if you’re reading this and haven’t seen Field of Dreams, all we can say is, “Why not?” For those who have seen the movie, the writers took some liberties with Graham’s actual life and career, so the information you are about to read doesn’t always line up with the movie. But really, it’s the movie that doesn’t match up with the real Archibald Graham.

‘Moonlight’ Graham and his single-inning major league playing career.

For those unfamiliar with Graham’s story, after a few years in the minor leagues, the New York Giants summoned the outfielder to join the team May 23, 1905. For more than a month, Graham rode the bench, never appearing in even a single game. Then, on June 29, Graham was in the on-deck circle waiting to pinch hit in the top of the ninth inning for the Giants when the final out of the inning was recorded. Graham went to right field and played the bottom of the ninth without a single ball hit to him.

The Giants returned Graham to the New York State League, and despite playing three more seasons in the minors, he never returned to the majors.

Fortunately, Graham had foresight about his baseball career and had focused attention on a medical career. In 1909, Graham returned to his hometown of Chisholm, Minnesota, and served the people there as “Doc” Graham for the next 50 years. He died in 1965.

Bob Hegman and his single-inning playing career with the KC Royals.

This brings us to the Kansas City connection, and involves another Minnesota native. Bob Hegman was born in Springfield in 1958 and completed high school in Sauk Rapids, about 176 miles from Graham’s Chisholm. He played baseball at St. Cloud State University before the Royals picked him in the 15th round of the 1980 amateur draft.

Like Graham, Hegman spent several years in the minor leagues. His top season was 1984 in Double-A ball when he slashed .253/.308/.293. In 1983, he hit his only professional home run.

That led to August 8, 1985. Kansas City purchased Hegman’s contract from Triple-A Omaha prior to the Royals’ home doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

There was no dramatic on deck moment for Hegman, but when the Royals took the field for the top of the ninth inning with a 10-1 lead, Greg Pryor took George Brett’s place at third base and Hegman checked in at second.

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The Tigers plated two runs in the ninth, but Bret Saberhagen was able to finish the 10-3 victory. Despite the runs and hits in the inning, Hegman had no fielding opportunities.

Hegman didn’t play in the second game of the doubleheader and didn’t play in any of the other Royals games before he was optioned back to Omaha August 12. His career line: one game played, one inning played, no defensive chances, no plate appearances.

Movin’ on up: Bob Hegman spent 16 years in the KC Royals’ front office.

After spending 1986 back in the minor leagues, Hegman retired as a player and joined Kansas City’s front office staff, where he served for 16 years in the scouting department. In 1998, Hegman was named Senior Director-Minor League Operations.

Hegman later spent some time as a major league scout for Minnesota.

Next. Old friend, World Series hero rejoins KC. dark

The next time you watch Field of Dreams and see Burt Lancaster playing “Doc” Graham in his final acting role, you might just give a nod to Bob Hegman, the KC Royals’ very own “Moonlight” Graham.