Van Lingle Mungo (song)

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"Van Lingle Mungo"
Song by Dave Frishberg from the album Oklahoma Toad
Released 1969
Label CTI Records
Writer(s) Dave Frishberg.
Oklahoma Toad track listing
  1. One Horse Town (v)
  2. Van Lingle Mungo
  3. The Secret of Success
  4. Oklahoma Toad
  5. The Prophet of Doom
  6. Rocky Mountain Water
  7. You Can't Go
  8. Wallflower Lonely
  9. Nasty Nasty Habit
  10. I Don't Believe You

"Van Lingle Mungo" is a lounge song composed and performed by jazz pianist Dave Frishberg. Frishberg wrote both the lyrics and the music. The song, released in 1969, was distributed by Red Day Division of Doramus, Inc. under CTI Records.[1] It was originally released as a single, but was later incorporated into Frishberg's LP, Oklahoma Toad.[2]


Frishberg developed the melody first, but couldn't settle on lyrics, rejecting several sets of lyrics he drafted.[3] Frishberg browsed through a copy of a baseball encyclopedia, which lists the names of players in Major League Baseball. In the encyclopedia, he found the name of Van Lingle Mungo, a name he found unusual. He later found himself humming Mungo's name to the melody.[3]

From there, Frishberg found more names in the encyclopedia that he found interesting. He proceeded to write song lyrics for the melody that included only the names of major league players and the words "and" and "big", attempting to order the names in a rhyming fashion. The song is performed in bossa nova style.[4]

The players mentioned in the song, in addition to Mungo, are:[2][5]

With the death of Johnny Pesky on August 13, 2012, Eddie Basinski is the last surviving player mentioned in the song.


Jazz critic and author Ira Gitler considers "Van Lingle Mungo" as "one of the best jazz works of the 70s and certainly the best ever done combining jazz and baseball."[2] The song has been entered in the National Baseball Library, a section of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.[6] "Van Lingle Mungo" was included in Baseball's Greatest Hits, a 1990 compilation of baseball-themed songs.

Mungo and his wife reported that they both enjoyed the song.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Beer And Song Rewards For Van Lingle Mungo". Sarasota Journal. United Press International. May 18, 1977. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "FISCHLER: Saluting 'Best, Worst and Most Unusual'". July 4, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "PIANIST / SINGER / SONGWRITER Frishberg Builds The Songs From Scratch". Newsday. September 19, 1991. Retrieved January 11, 2012.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ "VAN LINGLE MUNGO, 73, DIES, KNOWN FOR MONIKER, FASTBALL". Sun Sentinel. February 14, 1985. Retrieved January 11, 2012.  (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Van Lingle Mungo by David Frishberg". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Baseball Hall of Fame has many recordings Series%3A ASK US". St. Petersburg Times. August 18, 1992. Retrieved January 11, 2012.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]

  • MajorSwingMusic (April 17, 2009). "Van Lingle Mungo". Retrieved November 28, 2016 – via YouTube.