Michael “Mike” Cvengros
(School History Unknown)
Young Michael labored for a time in the coal mines. A newspaper described him as a “powerful youngster who got that way in the coal mines of Central Illinois”. He learned to play baseball with teams in and around Pana before he found his way at the age of 19 to Little Rock of the Southern League. How he ended up there is unclear, but Cvengros professional baseball career had begun.
Mike played parts of six seasons in Major League Baseball from 1922 to 1929. Mike was mainly a pitcher posting a record of 25-40 while pitching 551.1 innings. He also won 177 games in the minor leagues. Mike had an earned run average of 4.59 in his major league career and recorded 201 strikeouts. He had a career batting average of .200.
Over the course of his career, two themes constantly recur: the lefthander’s diminutive size, (5’ 8” and 155 pounds) which led journalists to frequently refer to him as “little” Mike Cvengros, and what must have been the relative complexity of pronouncing his unique last name. A “tongue-twister,” the scribes liked to call it. No doubt sluggers like Babe Ruth knew just how to say the pitcher’s name.
In his career, Mike faced baseball legends such as Babe Ruth who hit 5 home runs off Mike. That is no disgrace as inaugural Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Walter “Big Train” Johnson gave up 10 career home runs to the Babe.
Mike’s life is an interesting one to research as he etched the Cvengros name into the game of baseball. His beloved fans from his hometown of Pana celebrated Mike Cvengros Day and gifted gold watches to Mike and his brother, Joe, in 1922.