Eddie Basinski, the last surviving baseball player included in the late Dave Frishberg’s song, “Van Lingle Mungo”, passed away on January 8, 2022, in Gladstone, OR, at the age of 99.
In 1969, Frishberg, who died November 17 at the age of 88 (Jersey Jazz, December 2021), was browsing through the Baseball Encyclopedia, and he noticed the name, Van Lingle Mungo, a fastball pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants in the 1930s and ‘40s. “The name,” he wrote in The National Pastime in 2007, “scanned perfectly with a recurring melodic figure in my song, and I instantly sang it out loud. I knew then that the lyric would be only names — not names of famous stars, but names that evoked my childhood memories, and, incidentally, illuminated some fragments of forgotten baseball history. I dived into the book assembling names that scanned, rhymed and related loosely to those years, the years of my childhood passion for the game.”
The last verse of the song goes:
“John Antonelli, Ferris Fain
Frankie Crosetti, Johnny Sain
Harry Brecheen and Lou Boudreau
Frankie Gusine and Claude Passeau
Eddie Basinski, Ernie Lombardi, Hughie Mulcahy,
Van Lingle … Van Lingle Mungo.”
In his National Pastime article, Frishberg revealed that he met Basinski once and told him, “how I used to watch him with the St. Paul Saints in 1946. ‘You and Gene Mauch were a great double play combination,’ I blurted. Basinski frowned and said, ‘Mauch wasn’t much help.’ Then I told him, ‘You’re in my song, you know.’ ‘Your song?’ ‘Yes, have you ever heard my song, Van Lingle Mungo?’ Basinski stepped back, stared at me as if I were from Mars, excused himself and walked off to chat with someone else.”
In addition to being an infielder for the Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, Basinski was also a concert violinist.