August 7, 1938: Van Lingle Mungo to the rescue in wild one at Ebbets Field

This article was written by Alan Cohen



After concluding his 22-year major-league career with the Boston Braves in 1935, Babe Ruth had a brief coaching career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, debuting as first-base coach on June 19, and served through the remainder of the season. (Photo: SABR-Rucker Archive)


The Cincinnati Reds entered the Sunday doubleheader at Brooklyn having won each of the seven prior encounters between the Dodgers and Reds at Ebbets Field in 1938, and the Dodgers needed to reverse the trend if they wanted to escape the second division. They entered the games in sixth place, 1½ games behind the fifth-place Boston Braves and nine games behind the fourth-place Chicago Cubs. The Reds, meanwhile, were fighting for their first pennant since 1919. They started the day in third place, six games behind the league-leading Pittsburgh Pirates.

The first game of the doubleheader which began with a steady drizzle and ended in sunshine, akin to the fortunes of the home team, featured 21 runs, 26 hits, two singing ballplayers, a come-from-behind Dodgers win, and a winning pitcher who would be memorialized in song more than 30 years after the fact (along with the game’s starting battery for Cincinnati) – something for everyone – except for Reds manager Bill McKechnie, who saw his 52nd birthday celebration ruined.

A crowd of 18,138 was assembled at the home of the Dodgers, and they saw their heroes fall behind 7-0 in the opener. Bill Posedel started for the Dodgers and manager Burleigh Grimes pulled him from the game in the first inning. Johnny Vander Meer of no-hit fame started for the Reds and held the Dodgers hitless in the first inning. He walked two.

The Reds scored five first-inning runs off Posedel. Lonny Frey, batting leadoff for the Reds, walked. Wally Berger then singled for Cincinnati and with two runners on, Dusty Cooke hit one back through the box that bounded off Posedel’s knee in the direction of the Dodgers bullpen, down the first-base line. Frey scored on the play, and the Reds had runners at second and third. Frank McCormick then singled home the two runners, making the score 3-0. After Ernie Lombardi grounded out, Harry Craft hit a two-run homer that gave Cincinnati the five-run lead. The homer also gave Posedel the rest of the day off. Dodgers manager Grimes summoned Van Lingle Mungo from the bullpen, and the Carolinian got the Dodgers out of the inning without further damage.

Mungo was hit hard in the second inning by the top of the Reds order, yielding a pair of runs. Singles by Frey, Berger, Cooke, and McCormick did the damage.

Vander Meer showed a wild streak. Adding to his pair of first-inning walks were two more passes opening the second; this resulted in his removal. Bucky Walters came on in relief, and the first thing he did was walk another batter. A two-run single by Mungo was followed by a run-scoring single by Johnny Hudson, and the Dodgers had shaved three runs off the Cincinnati lead. Walters, with runners on second and third with one out, escaped further harm by getting Buddy Hassett to ground into a force play and Dolph Camilli to ground out.

The Dodgers crept closer with a run in the third inning. Kiki Cuyler singled and came home on a triple by Leo Durocher.

In the fourth inning, Brooklyn scored another run. Goody Rosen reached on a throwing error by shortstop Billy Myers and went station to station on a single by Hudson and a walk to Hassett. With the bases loaded, the Reds made their second pitching change of the game, bringing in Lee Grissom to face Camilli. Camilli’s fly ball to right field was not deep enough to do any damage and the bags were still loaded with one out. Cookie Lavagetto hit a fly ball to deep left field and all three runners tagged up. Rosen scored and Hudson made it safely into third base.

However, Hassett was caught between first base and second base. The throw from left fielder Berger was cut off by third baseman Lew Riggs, who threw the ball across the infield. Hassett was ruled out for running out of the baseline, interfering with the throw from Riggs to first baseman McCormick. Dodgers first-base coach Babe Ruth disagreed with the call, argued with umpire Beans Reardon, and was ejected from the game. It was Ruth’s first ejection since he joined Brooklyn in late June and resulted in the fans in the left-field stands showering the field with debris.

The Reds reestablished a four-run lead with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, with one out, Lombardi singled to center field and went to second on a wild pitch. After Riggs was intentionally walked, Lombardi scored on a single by Myers. In the eighth inning, Frey walked, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on a single by McCormick.

The Dodgers, trailing 9-5, bounced back in their half of the eighth inning. Brooklyn had only nine hits in the game but made them count. Cincinnati’s Grissom was humming along and hadn’t allowed a hit since he entered the game in the fourth inning. In the eighth inning with one out, the Cincinnati reliever walked Merv Shea, who came out of the game for pinch-runner Ernie Koy. Mungo’s grounder to shortstop to Myers resulted in an errant throw to first base (his second miscue of the game), and the Dodgers had runners on first and third. After Rosen walked to fill the bases, Grissom was gone, relieved by Gene Schott. Schott was ineffective. One run scored on a fielder’s choice and two came home on a double by Hassett. Croonin’ Joe Cascarella came on to strike out Camilli and end the inning. The score was 9-8 after eight innings.

As if there had not been enough of the exciting and unusual in one game, the ninth inning was the icing on the proverbial cake.

Cincinnati extended its lead with a run in the top of the inning, by which point each batter in the Reds lineup, with the exception of the pitchers, had at least one base hit. Craft singled to lead off the inning and was forced at second by Riggs. Myers then slammed a triple to the wall in left-center field, scoring Riggs, but was gunned down when he tried to make it an inside-the-park homer, the relay throw coming from second baseman Hudson on the throw from left fielder Hassett. The top of the ninth ended with the score 10-8 in favor of the visitors.

Cascarella went back to the mound in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Cuyler walked. After Durocher popped to second, the roof fell in. Gilly Campbell singled and Tuck Stainback, batting for Mungo, drove in Brooklyn’s ninth run with a single. Rosen delivered the tying and winning runs with a triple off the big scoreboard in right field.

Mungo, who pitched the final 8⅔ innings of the game, was rewarded with his fourth win of the season and his first since June 30, when he hurled a one-hitter against Boston. The once promising flamethrower, who averaged 16 wins per season from 1932 through 1936, led the league in shutouts in 1935, and struck out a league-leading 238 batters in 1936, was in the midst of a bad season in which he went 4-11.

Cascarella took the loss, bringing his record to 3-7. He was in the last year of a five-year big-league career. He went 4-7 in 1938 and finished his career with a 27-48 record. He was noted for his singing as early as 1928, when he sang on the radio in New York. He was a tenor and sang opera.2

The other singer in the game was Hassett of Brooklyn, whose ninth-inning throw kept the margin at two runs. Hassett batted .292 with 1,026 hits during his seven-year big-league career. Known as the Bronx Thrush, he would sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the drop of a leprechaun.3

Brooklyn, after winning the second game of the doubleheader, 6-3, finished the day in sixth place, 16 games behind the league leaders. But their “Daffiness Boys” tag still intact, they finished the season in seventh place. It was their sixth straight second-division finish, and they were still looking for their first pennant since 1920.

Cincinnati fell into a third-place tie with Chicago, eight games removed from the league lead with 52 games left to play. They weren’t able to make up the difference, finishing the season in fourth place, six games behind the first-place Cubs.

Cincinnati’s top player in 1938 was Lombardi who had gone 1-for-5 with a single in the seventh inning on August 7. He batted .342 for the season and was selected the league’s Most Valuable Player. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.

In 1939, Cincinnati won the pennant and Brooklyn, with new manager Leo Durocher, freed itself of the daffiness tag, finishing in third place with an 84-69 record.



In addition to and the sources shown in the Notes, the author used:

Scott, Lee. “Dodgers Display Plenty of Grit in Double Victory over Cincinnati Team, Brooklyn Citizen, August 8, 1938: 6.

Holmes, Tommy. “Flock Earns Even Break Against West in Rout of Reds,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 8, 1938: 12.

McGowen, Roscoe. “Reds Bow 11-10, 6-3, as Dodgers Rally,” New York Times, August 8, 1938: 16.

Smith, Lou. “Brooks Deal Crushing Blow to Reds, Grabbing Double Bill,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 8, 1938: 11-12.



1 Hy Turkin, “Dodgers Conquer Reds, 11-10, 6-3,” New York Daily News, August 8, 1938: 31.

2 Bill Nowlin, “Joe Cascarella,” SABR BioProject,

3 Warren Corbett, “Buddy Hassett,” SABR BioProject

Additional Stats

Brooklyn Dodgers 11
Cincinnati Reds 10
Game 1, DH

Ebbets Field
Brooklyn, NY


Box Score + PBP:

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