Dave’s Note: With this post, we welcome a third contributor to this blog – my brother, Rob! You may recognize his name from my post on Ossee Schreckengost, where I explain Rob’s role in starting what would become the Funny Names Blog. Give him a warm welcome!
Van Lingle Mungo, a right-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, had a mediocre won-loss record (120-115) but an All-Star caliber name (Mungo, incidentally, was a three-time All-Star).
Known for his strikeouts (he led the National League in 1936 with 238 Ks) and combative personality, Mungo once had to be smuggled out of Cuba via laundry cart and seaplane after being caught cavorting with a married woman by the woman’s husband, who pulled out a machete in the incident. Mungo’s assistant in the escape was another humorously named fellow – Dodgers executive Babe Hamberger.
Mungo was brought back into the public eye after his career was over when he was featured in a novelty song by musician Dave Frishberg. Although the poem was comprised of the names of dozens of oddly-named ballplayers, “Van Lingle Mungo” was chosen as the title, largely due to Mungo’s “prosodic” name.
Sadly, Mungo did not follow up his playing career by becoming a coach. Had he done so, he likely would have been given an apt nickname – Van Lingle “Fungo” Mungo. (A fungo bat, for those uninitiated, is a baseball bat specifically designed for coaches to easily hit fly balls and grounders).