Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meet Baby Mangino: Wichita infant now famous KU fan

Eight-month-old Bode Lubbers, who earned national Internet fame recently for his likeness to Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino, posed for pictures recently at his Wichita home.

Eight-month-old Bode Lubbers, who earned national Internet fame recently for his likeness to Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino, posed for pictures recently at his Wichita home.



Journal-World File Photo

Kansas Jayhawks football coach Mark Mangino.


Angie Lubbers/Special to the Journal-World

Bode Lubbers has been featured on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” among other public appearances, but has not yet met his mentor, Mark Mangino.

— Not long ago, it came to light that Baby Mangino — the rotund infant who recently earned a great deal of national attention for his Halloween costume depicting Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino — did not actually go trick-or-treating as a college football coach.

This was revealed on a Tuesday evening last month, as Baby Mangino was lounging on the carpet of his family’s home, sucking on his fingers. Baby Mangino, who is actually 8-month-old Bode Lubbers, lives at the end of a cul-de-sac in an affluent Wichita neighborhood with his mother, Angie; father, Billy; and five older sisters who sometimes tie his hair into a ponytail. Bode has big, curious eyes, a plop of sandy-colored hair and arms that are simultaneously soft and blocky in nature — like marshmallows stacked on top of each other.

Being a celebrity baby — like Bode very much is — is kind of like being an ordinary celebrity in the sense that people tend to make assumptions about you and your personal life. And at the moment, Angie was clearing up some common misconceptions about her son’s New Hallow’s Eve exploits.

“Everybody likes to think that Bode went trick-or-treating as Mark Mangino,” she explained. “But five-month-old babies generally don’t go trick-or-treating.”

As it happens, turning your baby into a bite-sized version of Mark Mangino is not an especially difficult task. It requires a miniature KU track suit ($24.99, Target), a tube of brown Mary Kay eyeliner ($10, consultant) and approximately five minutes. Having each of these things handy one evening a couple of weeks before Halloween, Angie — long noticing the resemblance between Bode and Kansas’ Orange Bowl-winning coach — tugged the tracksuit onto her son, penciled on an eyeliner mustache and snapped a photo. Pleased with the outcome (“He gave us his best Mark Mangino look that day,” Angie admits), she drove to Walgreens, had 20 “Happy Halloween” cards printed, sent them to some friends and family members and kind of figured that that would be that.

Instead, the photo was met with quite a bit of fanfare, and before long, it had found its way onto the Internet, where — as is known to happen in these sorts of situations — one person sent it to another person who sent it to another person, until one day, presumably, someone at the sports-media Web site opened an e-mail, found a mustachioed infant looking back at him, and decided — understandably — that this was something that needed to be shared with the world.

And so it was.

Since then, Baby Mangino has been popping up all over the place. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, hosts of ESPN’s ultra-popular “Pardon the Interruption” program, devoted a portion of a recent show to Baby Mangino, as did MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. Bode has been featured on multiple local news channels, meanwhile, and not long ago, he earned the distinct honor of being named Deadspin’s Sports Human of the Year, after winning an online competition pitting him against such household names as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, ESPN personalities Erin Andrews and Chris Berman and the writer/editor Buzz Bissinger.

It would be understandable if Bode’s recent foray into the national limelight resulted in boosted feelings of self-importance, but he has mostly managed to remain level-headed about the whole thing. Yes, he kind of expects his parents to wait on him hand-and-foot, and sometimes, in the occasion that his apple juice is not presented in a timely manner, he can get a little whiny. But otherwise, he is a very easygoing and likable baby. When he smiles up at you, with drool leaking out of his mouth and dribbling down his chins and landing in a pool on his Kansas football T-shirt, it is very difficult to dislike him — even if you are trying to.

When he is not busy impersonating college football coaches or appearing on SportsCenter or winning sports human of the year awards, Bode spends a great deal of his time engaged in normal baby pursuits: eating jars of Gerber baby food, playing in his Johnny Bouncer, being chauffeured about town by his parents. His favorite pastime, however, seems to be challenging the structural integrity of various household items. He does this by picking up an object, looking it over for a moment or two, and then placing it in his mouth, where it is subjected to a lengthy and strenuous gnawing-on.

Stationed on the floor of his family’s living room on a recent Tuesday afternoon, for instance, Baby Mangino feasted upon — at one point or another — a yellow plastic block, an elastic headband, his fingers, a toy race car, a string of his sister’s hair and the rubber nipple on his bottle of apple juice.

“His doctor says he’s a snacker,” Angie explained.

Due largely to these snacking tendencies, Bode’s frame has developed a bit of girth over time. Despite entering the world at a very average 7 pounds, 11 ounces, he is now tipping the scales at a very husky 27 pounds (and growing). As a result, Angie sometimes finds herself surprised at just how robust her only son has become. A few weeks before Christmas, for example, she was shopping at the department store Von Maur when she decided it might be a good idea to pick up a “Baby’s First Christmas” outfit for Bode. She looked and looked, but unable to find an outfit in her son’s size — 18 to 24 months — Angie approached a sales clerk.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I cannot find anything bigger than 12 months.”

“Well, you wouldn’t want a size 18 months,” offered the clerk, “because it wouldn’t be their first Christmas.”

In the case of their youngest child emerging as such an Internet sensation, Angie and Billy express feelings of bewilderment, like they are not quite sure, in the aftermath of it all, how the whole thing seemed to happen. But seeing as how it did happen, they have decided that the appropriate next step would be to snap a photo of the Manginos together. Currently, it is unclear if Adult Mangino is aware of Baby Mangino’s existence — or how, exactly, the 2007 national college football coach of the year feels about being immortalized by an 8-month-old infant from Wichita.

This has not managed to dampen the family’s hopes, however.

“We just need somebody to set us up with Coach Mangino,” Angie said.

Right about then, Bode, who was in the process of consuming the head of a toy penguin, emitted an extended burst of flatulence that sounded a little like a machine gun. His older sisters, recently home from school, giggled from across the room, and Angie looked down at her smiling baby, made a funny face and said, cooingly, “You’re gassy!”

She then turned back toward a visitor, smiled and went on to say she hopes a meeting between the two Manginos can be arranged sooner rather than later.

“After all,” she said, wiping a stream of slobber from Bode’s chin, “He’s not going to look like Mark Mangino forever.”


Jim Baker 11 years, 7 months ago

Nice article, Dugan...pardon the interruption, but the ESPN show is PTI; not Around the Horn.

overseashawk 11 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Displayhawk 11 years, 7 months ago

Now here is some hard-hitting journalism! Let me get this straight. The LJW paid for Doogie to drive down to Wichita to interview the family and take pictures of this kid, and Doogie probably stayed overnight in Wichita. In these economic times, this seems like an irresponsible use of funds. I understand the football coverage is thin right now, but can't you contact the newest recruits and give us an in-depth look at each one of them each day until spring practice starts. That being said, I agree with Overseashawk!

KU1979 11 years, 7 months ago

Good article, Dugan.

A story about a baby and that's your comment, overseas? You're a sick man.

Michael Auchard 11 years, 7 months ago

Wow. This whole new E! channel look for the Journal World is starting to get over the top, guys. Taking "slow news day" to a whole other level isn't cool and it isn't interesting. This would be far less lame if you guys still had as many good stories -- like you did back before you fired some journalists awhile back. The remaining writers on staff should contribute stories of genuine interest, not kibbles and bits like this. If you're going to continue to embarrass and forcefully disassociate yourself from your own community, prepare for the consequences.

Dan Pawlowski 11 years, 7 months ago

I actually liked the article. I read to learn the latest about my Jayhawks, to temporarily escape from the bad news of the day and to smile every once in a while. Here is a concept for the people who did not like the article. If you don't like these kinds of articles , then don't read them. Wow, what a concept.

frompekka2sasha 11 years, 7 months ago

People are genuinely "joyless" these days and it doesn't appear that will change anytime soon. This is a story that has given KU quite a bit of good/bad/indifferent press and I think it's awfully humorous. If this article really bothers you that much than I feel sorry for you as a human being.

I went to Bishop Carroll with Billy and Angie and they are good people. I have no idea how they can handle all of those kids but maybe baby-Mangino will help by organizing activities for the entire family in a few years. Honestly I hope most folks are able to just chuckle about this harmless story that comes at a time when there is mostly negative news.

Displayhawk- I hope Doogie stayed in a hotel for two nights and ordered room service. Whatever it takes to get the story right! Maybe he stopped by and watched Perry Ellis for all you know?

Dan Pawlowski 11 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone know the date that PTI talked about Baby Mangino?

overseashawk 11 years, 7 months ago

I'm sick indeed but what can you do? I can't believe my comment was deleted. I was just messing around. People take life way too seriously.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 7 months ago

Quit complaining about what qualifies as "news." It's amazing that if there is an article that is not the breaking news story of the century, there is always a commentor that says something to the effect of "this is news?" It is starting to get to the point where it is a new version of Godwin's law.

Well, you took the time to read it, so obviously the writer did their job. Don't read it if it doesn't reach your high standard of what is news and and what isn't.

Topside 11 years, 7 months ago

Based off the pic looks like they finally got a boy. 6th times a charm!

milehighhawk 11 years, 7 months ago

cool article.

Cut these guys some slack on the assignment: If they don't cover the story, it looks like they're out of touch; if they do cover the story, they have to defend it.

They can't win.

Hawkish4bigM 11 years, 7 months ago

Nice article, and Bode, don't worry about the pigtails and all. My sisters put me in curlers and I turned out okay. Didn't make me girly, but come to think of it my hair was curly later on. Any article connected to KU football, staff, former players, former staff is welcome in my book. If I am not interested, I won't click on it.

Meanwhile, nice looking family and glad there are some good fans in Wichita. Spread the PR and good will. Some of these posters seem to almost have an agenda in my opinion.

Keep up the good work, Baby Mangino!

Lance Hobson 11 years, 7 months ago

I want to see this kid on the sidelines next year!

frompekka2sasha 11 years, 7 months ago

Nice to see some goodwill here. BTW- They have TWO sets of twins if that helps any of you appreciate their story more. Wow.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.