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If we’re going to talk about jazz and baseball, as we always are at this time of year, we have to start by listening to jazz pianist and songwriter Dave Frishberg’s “Van Lingle Mungo.”


Mungo, a pitcher who played with the Dodgers and, later, the New York Giants, is probably more famous because of that Frishberg tune than because of his work on the field. (Frishberg, on the other hand, is probably more famous for “Peel me a Grape.”)

The Frishberg lyrics are made up entirely of ball players’ names. And that prompted the notion of creating a fantasy jazz baseball team, made up of jazz musicians (extant or otherwise) who created baseball songs. Let's call them The Swingers, and give them a taut roster of only nine players, presented here in their batting order.

1. Les Brown with “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio” is our leadoff batter.


2. Vince Guaraldi with the “Charlie Brown Baseball Theme,” because Guaraldi is nothing but consistent when it comes to being a “table setter.”


3. Miles Davis and John Coltrane with “Two Bass Hit,” and some very speedy base running potential.


4. Count Basie is our cleanup man, bound to clear the bases with “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball.”

 5.  Dave Frishberg with “Van Lingle Mungo,” also in the heart of the order.

5. Dr. John’s version of “Take me Out to the Ball Game,” just in case Frishberg is outpitched.

 6. The Treniers with “Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)” can frequently be counted on to drive one in.


 7. Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly’s version of “Take me Out to the Ball Game,” because, well, it’s Sinatra and Kelly. (Jazzy. Ish. But click through to watch the dancing!)


8. Mabel Scott with “Baseball Boogie,” because we think she “knows the game” well enough to be in this part of the Swingers’ lineup.

9.  Teresa Brewer, admittedly a bit like some pitchers in the American League during interleague play when they have to bat, with this one about Mickey Mantle: “I Love Mickey.” (Possibly a swing and a miss. But it has a certain charm.)


 Related links

Where have all the jazz and baseball nicknames gone?

Fantasy baseball: when fans think they're rock stars

Springsteen, Fogerty, Buck 65 sing songs of baseball

Stadium rock: when baseball players become musicians

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Your fantasy jazz baseball team

If we’re going to talk about jazz and baseball, as we always are at this time of year, we have to sta…


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Fawn Fritzen
#1 posted by
Fawn Fritzen
on Apr 03, 2012

Whew, those are some pointy canes Frank and Gene have. Thanks for the great lineup - that was fun!

#2 posted by
on Apr 04, 2012

That’s a very powerful fantasy jazz baseball team.


I’m going to throw-in Phil Nimmons as my designated hitter.

I’ll have his jazz band play “Winning” from the movie, “The Natural.”


Play ball . . . ah . . . jazz!


Pete Morey
#3 posted by
Pete Morey
on Apr 04, 2012

Great post. Great songs. I'd pick em all for my team if my pockets were deep enough.

But maybe Wes Montgomery  fast hands and I bet he could peel off a ball to third base as fast as one of his lightning guitar lines.

Can't wait to do the seven inning stretch this week. Lets go Blue Jays

Pappa Azucar
#4 posted by
Pappa Azucar
on Apr 05, 2012

One of the earliest editions of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour program featured an hour of baseball songs by (mainly) obscure artists from the middle of the 20th century. I have a recording of the show and haven't otherwise checked on the availiability of any of these tunes at YouTube or iTunes

Here are some:

Baseball Boogie / Mabel Scott

Home Run / Chance Halladay

Baseball Baby / Johnn Darling

Three Strikes And You're Out / Cowboy Cops

The Ball Game / Sister Wynona Carr

Dan Newcomb / Teddy Brannon

Newk's Fadeaway / Sonny Rollins

Say Hey / The Treniers

The Wizard Of Oz / Sam Bush

3rd Base, Dodger Stadium / Ry Cooder

Heart - Damn Yankees / 1955 Broadway Cast




Li Robbins
#5 posted by
Li Robbins
on Apr 05, 2012

Thanks for the suggestions, all. And @Pappa Azucar, not sure about YouTube links for all of those tunes, but you can hear Newk's Fadeaway (for Don Newcombe, the first black pitcher to start a World Series game) here:

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