Van Lingle Mungo
June 8, 1911|
Pageland, South Carolina
|Died: February 12, 1985
Pageland, South Carolina
|September 7, 1931 for the Brooklyn Robins|
Last MLB appearance
|September 2, 1945 for the New York Giants|
|Earned run average||3.47|
Career highlights and awards
Van Lingle Mungo (June 8, 1911 – February 12, 1985) was a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher known for his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Mungo played for the Dodgers from 1931 to 1941 and finished his baseball career with the New York Giants.
Mungo averaged 16 wins per season from 1932 through 1936 and led the National League in strikeouts with 238 in 1936. He was named to the All-Star team in 1934, 1936, and 1937. However, following an arm injury in 1937, he won only 13 major league games over the next six seasons. He completed his major league career with a 120-115 won-lost record over 2113 innings pitched, with a 3.47 earned run average.
Stories and anecdotes about Mungo tend to emphasize his reputation for combativeness, including episodes of drinking and fighting. The most widely told story concerns a visit to Cuba where, supposedly, Mungo was caught in a compromising position with a married woman by her husband. Mungo punched the husband in the eye, leading him to attack Mungo with a butcher knife or machete, requiring Dodgers executive Babe Hamberger to smuggle Mungo in a laundry cart to a seaplane waiting off a wharf in order to escape the country.
Mungo returned to the public eye in 1969 because of the use of his prosodic name as the title of a novelty song by Dave Frishberg. The song lyrics consist entirely of the names of baseball players of the 1940s, strung together to a bossa nova beat. Mungo is one of only five players mentioned more than once and his name functions as a kind of refrain. According to Frishberg, The Dick Cavett Show arranged to have him sing the song to Mungo in person, and Mungo asked him backstage if there would ever be any financial remuneration for the use of his name in the song. Frishberg told him no, but maybe Mungo could make some money if he wrote a song called "Dave Frishberg". Ironically, today Mungo is remembered primarily because of the song.
Mungo was born in Pageland, South Carolina, where he also died. During his retirement in Pageland, he owned and operated the Ball Theatre until it burned down in the 1950s. Mungo provided separate balcony seating for the African American patrons. This seating arrangement was an innovation; the other small movie theater in town was segregated.
- List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
- List of Major League Baseball shutout champions
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career ERA
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- BaseballLibrary - biography and career highlights
- Historic Baseball - biographical note
- Lyrics to Dave Frishberg's song "Van Lingle Mungo"
- The Deadball Era
|Brooklyn Dodgers Opening Day