Many of us know the story of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: he appeared in one game with the New York Giants in 1905 but never made an appearance at the plate. His character was immortalized by actor Burt Lancaster in the classic movie Field of Dreams.
Did you know there was a similar occurrence, this time with a Nashville connection?
Benjamin Garth “Red” Mann was a 6’0″, 155-lb right-handed pitcher who worked his way from Class D ball in Rayne, Louisiana in 1937 to the A-1 classification team in Knoxville by 1942. After World War II he was placed on the major league roster of the Chicago Cubs to begin the 1944 season.
On May 14, 1944, in the second game of a double header against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cubs manager Charlie Grimm inserted Mann as a pinch runner for left fielder Lou Novikoff, who had singled. Mann took third on a double by Bill Nicholson, and scored on Andy Pafko’s single.
Sixs day later on May 20th, Garth Mann was sent to Nashville. For the remainder of the Vols season he was 7-7 with a 4.88 ERA. During the next few years he would make it to Triple-A with Oakland, Sacramento, and Seattle before retiring in 1949; his pitching record was 114-86 with a 3.53 ERA over 11 minor league seasons.
Today is Garth Mann’s birthday, born on November 16, 1915 in Brandon, Texas. He passed away September 11, 1980 in Waxahachie, Texas at the age of 64.
May 14, 1944 was Mann’s only appearance in a major league game and like “Moonlight” Graham, did not make a plate appearance. It’s a less famous story, of course, but at least Mann scored a run and “Moonlight” Graham did not.
I wonder who would best portray Mann in his “Field of Dreams” story?
© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.