By Joey Grundl
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham was highly popularized in the hit movie Field of Dreams. Part of the film revolves around the story of professional baseball player who played one career game in the major leagues for the New York Giants. He sees one defensive inning, and was on-deck when the last batter flew out to end the top of the ninth inning. Moonlight would move on from baseball and earn his medical degree, practicing medicine for much of his life. While the movie is a work of fiction, Moonlight’s story is one of fact.
Pete Swiderski, a pitcher from Homewood, IL, calls Moonlight Graham one of his role models. Like all the others here at the California Winter League, Swiderski is looking to make the big time after his time in Palm Springs. Of course the ultimate goal is to sign an independent league contract, eventually find his way onto an affiliated club, and work his way up the ladder so he can step on a major league mound. Swiderski knows it’s a long road to The Show, but he would be happy just to sample a bit of the life of a professional ballplayer. Like Moonlight, Swiderski is just happy to be around the game of baseball. Whether his pro-baseball career is one of longevity or one that never quite comes to fruition, he’s content just knowing he worked hard and gave his all to the sport he loves.
Maybe the name “Moonlight” Swiderski is more appropriate because Swiderski and Graham even share a common interest for a career after baseball.
“I plan after this to actually go in the Navy to be a corpsman, and eventually become a doctor.”
Swiderski choose the Navy as the branch of armed services for a couple reasons.
“They have a good medical program…and it’s an opportunity to travel around the world.” He does have a goal for what happens after his time is served in the Navy.
“I’d love to have my own practice. It will be one of the most difficult things in my life, but will help me develop and grow as a person.” “Maybe I won’t like it, maybe I study something else, maybe physical therapy, or something other sports-related.”
Graduating college with an arts degree in media production, it would seem moving to a medical profession is a sudden and unexpected career change, but Pete Swiderski has plenty of experience in that field.
“When I was 18 I got my EMT certification in Chicago Heights and I got a good taste of the ER environment. I liked it, I was good at it, but I wasn’t emotionally ready.”
So Swiderski decided to pursue a degree that is more of a hobby, get some real world experience, while also “try[ing] to get all the baseball out,” and then later practice medicine sometime down the road.
Pete feels that there are two sides to a good doctor. One half has both all the knowledge and book smarts about medicine, the other half is relying on the street smarts to help emotionally relate to a patient.
“I believe I already have one half.” Pete “Moonlight” Swiderski is a man of many talents and he still has others in his sights.