Van Lingle Mungo

In the mid-1930s, Mungo was considered to have the talent of contemporaries Dizzy Dean and Carl Hubbell, but he pitched for losing Dodger clubs and made matters worse by being easily upset by his teammates ineptitude. Accused of wasting his strength by compiling strikeouts early in his games, he believed the only sure way to retire batters was to fan them. He was the 1936 National League strikeout leader, with 238. He also led the NL in walks three times. In an era when starters were expected to go the distance, Mungo, who led the NL in games started in 1934 and 1936, only finished 47% of his career starts. But between 1932 and 1936, he averaged 16 wins a year.

Mungo was wild and mean, a high-kicking fireballer with a fierce temper. He was known as a drinker, and was involved in some bizarre off-the-field incidents. He once had to be smuggled out of Cuba to escape the machete-wielding husband of a nightclub dancer with whom he’d been caught in bed. His career went downhill after he injured his arm in the 1937 All-Star Game. He won only 13 ML games over his next six seasons. Becoming a junkballer, he went 14-7 in 1945. The lifetime .221 hitter sometimes pinch-hit. In 1970 his colorful name was prominently used in a nostalgic bossa nova ballad.