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King For A Day

May 24, 2019

Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes. . .now that would have been a tragedy.
– Moonlight “Doc” Graham

Moonlight Graham was a real person. He was a Major League baseball player for the 1905 New York Giants baseball team. He debuted on June 29, 1905. That was also the date of his last game. Like his character in the movie Field of Dreams, Moonlight Graham played exactly one game. His official stat line looks like this:


Graham never got to bat. He came in as a substitute in the top of the 9th inning. He was on deck when the third out was scored, meaning he was the next person that would have gotten to bat. He played the bottom of the ninth in right field. No balls were hit his way.

He played in the minors for a few years. He went to medical school and eventually became the town doctor for Chisholm, Minnesota from 1919 to 1959. He passed away in 1965.

The quote above is from the movie. It’s nearly inconceivable that you haven’t seen it, but in case you haven’t, Kevin Costner’s character goes to see an old Doc Graham and tells him that he can give him a chance to finally get to bat in a baseball game. Doc turns him down.

Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within…you came this close. It would kill some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. They’d consider it a tragedy.

Doc explains that baseball wasn’t the important thing.

In the movie Hoosiers, Gene Hackman plays a basketball coach in a small Indiana town. Barbara Hershey’s character tries to keep Hackman from recruiting a young man.

You know, a basektball hero around here is treated like a god. How can he ever find out what he can really do? I don’t want this to be the high point of his life. I’ve seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives talking about the glory days when they were seventeen years old.

You know, most people would kill…to be treated like a god, just for a few minutes.

There a line in Mormon scripture that says,

And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
– Doctrine And Covenants 18:15

My son went on a mission for the Mormon church. He was called to serve in the Layton, Utah mission for three months. At the end of that time he would possibly be reasssigned or released.

A mission is a rite of passage for Mormon young men. My son had to overcome some pretty serious health issues to even get to be called on a 3 month mission. Most missions are for 24 months.

My son finished his mission early. In fact, very early. After a week, he came to the realization that his body wasn’t up to the physical toll that a mission put on him. He was needing to walk 10-12 miles per day. And it was just too much.

He’s home now, and fully recovered, but understanding that his desire exceeded his ability. He’s moving on to the rest of his life. He’s applying to BYU and hopes to attend in the Fall. He’s getting his old job back and looking to buy a car.

I’ve considered what it means to work hard for a goal and then have to change your plan, or cut short your dream. I told my son,

You got to be a missionary for a week. You got to be a representative for the Church and for Jesus Christ. And even if it was for only one day, instead of 7 or three months or two years, that is something very special.

My son is at peace with his decision. He knows that he tried his best and we all know that given the choice, he’d have served longer.

But, sometimes, it’s enough to just be king for a day.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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