Monday, January 03, 2005
Jim Westlake Dies
A lot of people, baseball fans or not, have seen Field of Dreams. One of its supporting characters is "Moonlight" Graham. Graham is based on an actual player who played a single inning of a game in 1905, never coming to bat. He retired shortly thereafter to become a doctor. It’s seemingly not an appealing fate, although the movie Graham (played by Burt Lancaster) seems comfortable enough with it, remarking that if he'd "only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy."
Like Graham, Jim Westlake appeared in just one major-league game. Unlike Graham, he had an at-bat. In the ninth inning of a "Ladies' Day" game at the Polo Grounds in 1955,
It is easy to look at the story of someone like Jim Westlake and see it as a failure. But of course,
Jim Westlake's stat line looks depressing all on its own: 1 Game, .000/.000/.000, 1 K, in a meaningless at-bat of a blowout no less. I had even initially planned to write words to that effect. But like Moonlight Graham, Jim Westlake's career--and his life--was more than just MLB stats.