Peanuts was a daily comic strip written and drawn by American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, which included the motif of its characters playing baseball. The strip ran from October 2, 1950 to the day after Schulz's death, February 13, 2000. At its peak Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 40 languages. The strip was one of the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips.
- 1 Baseball in the Comic Strip
- 2 Characters
- 3 Sources
Baseball in the Comic Strip
Baseball was one of the strip's most popular motifs with the strip's characters playing many games, often between teams managed by Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty. Charlie Brown's team often lost by ugly scores, such as 123 - 0. The team is known to have won at least eight games. The first record for a season given in any comic strip was "no wins and twenty losses."
In the early days of the strip positions were generally not set. In the late 1950s, the typical lineup of Charlie Brown's team had become relatively stable. The lineup was:
- Pitcher: Charlie Brown (also served as manager)
- Catcher: Schroeder
- First Baseman: Shermy
- Second Baseman: Linus van Pelt
- Third Baseman: Pig-Pen
- Shortstop: Snoopy
- Left Fielder: Patty
- Center Fielder: Lucy Van Pelt
- Right Fielder: Frieda
Violet also played left field. Pig-Pen also played at second base once. 555 95472, played some third base for the team, while Eudora was in center at times. Shermy was listed as a designated hitter in at least one game, and pitched in a few early games. Linus also played right field, once yelling out for someone to hit the ball his way because he was bored, as well as catching fly balls by holding his blanket out of house windows. He also played shortstop twice and even had a stint as a pitcher when Charlie Brown developed "Little Leaguer's Elbow," and was much more successful, taking the team on a winning streak. When Charlie Brown returns, he temporarily plays third base. Schroeder also pitched one game, with Charlie Brown behind the plate. Charlie Brown was also shown playing center field in one strip, declaring that "a good center fielder is the backbone of the team".
Lucy also moved around the outfield often, played at both first and second once each, and even tried to pitch on two occasions. She also tried out for catcher, and after suiting up stated "I feel like I'm in a bird cage ... tweet tweet chirp chirp"). However by the next strip she returned to the outfield because she "...refuse[s] to get hit by a flying bat and deprive the world of Miss Universe of 1975."
Other characters had limited action with the team. Rerun van Pelt played one game in left field, and gave Charlie Brown's team a rare win with a walk-off walk. A gambling scandal (Rerun had bet Snoopy a nickel the team would win) caused the Little League president to reverse the victory. Woodstock tried out for the team once, but was cut. Sally never played, but occasionally came to the games to cheer on Linus, her "Sweet Babboo."
Peppermint Patty once offered to help out "Chuck" by pitching for his team (relegating Charlie Brown to left field). She would quit in disgust after just one game in which she hit five home runs and pitched a no-hitter, but lost 37 - 5, due to the team's poor defense.
Joe Shlabotnik was Charlie Brown's favorite player and he was a fan of the San Francisco Giants - cartoonist Charles Schulz lived in northern California. In a December 22, 1962 strip Charlie Brown is shown stoic for the first three frames and in the final frame bursts into tears saying "Why couldn't have McCovey hit the ball even two feet higher ...?!" in reference to the Giants loss in the 1962 World Series. He also lost a spelling bee because he spelt "maze" M-A-Y-S.
555 "5" 95472 debuted in 1963, and continued to appear on and off until 1981. He had spiky hair and sometimes wore a shirt with the number five on it. 95472 was the family's "last name", with the accent on the 4; the name was actually their ZIP code, which corresponds that of Sebastopol, California.
As 5 once explained to Charlie Brown, his father, morose and hysterical over the preponderance of numbers in people's lives, had changed all of the family's names to numbers. Asked by Charlie Brown if it was Mr. 95472's way of protesting, 5 replied that this was actually his father's way of "giving in." 5 also has two sisters, identical red-haired girls, named 3 and 4 ("Nice feminine names," in Charlie Brown's sarcastic estimation). It can be assumed that their parents are named 1 and 2.
Sally Brown was the younger sister of Charlie Brown, having been born on May 25, 1959. Unlike most of the Peanuts gang, she did not show much interest in playing sports, having never played on Charlie Brown's baseball team. As a baby, she liked being taken out for walks, which caused her brother to miss an important baseball game when he had to walk her around the neighborhood. He left her to return to the game due to the pleading of his team, and they quickly lost the game, causing Charlie Brown to incur both the wrath of his mother and his teammates.
Eudora moved to Charlie Brown's neighborhood from another state in June 13, 1978. She had long, straight black hair and usually wears a knitted hat. The first character she first was Sally and the two girls quickly became friends. She played on Charlie Brown's team, taking the center field spot next to Lucy. It had once been held by Frieda, before she disappeared from the strip; Eudora would eventually disappear as well in 1987. Eudora was the last new character to join the Peanuts world who could arguably be classified as a "major" character.
Frieda made her debut on March 6, 1961. She sat behind Linus in school and was a chatterbox, and managed to work her most prominent, her "naturally curly hair," into every one of her conversations. She joined Charlie Brown's team as an outfielder, although she tends to be more interested in talking to fellow outfielder Lucy than she is in the game. She is the only player on Charlie Brown's team who does not wear a baseball cap as it would hide her naturally curly hair. Frieda owned a cat named Faron, whom she carried around in her arms. She made last appearance in 1975.
Franklin was first introduced on July 31, 1968 as the first (and only) African-American character in the strip. Franklin's father was a soldier fighting in Vietnam, to which Charlie Brown replied "My Dad's a barber...he was in a war too, but I don't know which one." He sits in front of Peppermint Patty in school, and is the center fielder of her baseball team.
Violet Gray was the first major character to join the cast in 1951. In early strips she was shown with shoulder length dark hair in a pony-tail, but in later strips had her hair in a bun. She and her best friend Patty would berate Charlie Brown whenever the situation presented itself. Despite this, she played for Charlie Brown's baseball team, usually as an outfielder. She was phased out in the 1970s and left the strip in 1984.
Marcie is Peppermint Patty's bespectacled best friend. She always referred to Peppermint Patty as "sir." She made her first appearance on June 18, 1968, but was not mentioned by name until October 11, 1971. She was originally, as a bit dim-headed but would later be portrayed as an overachiever and the most academically bright of the Peanuts cast. She played on Peppermint Patty's team for a while. She quit after realizing that she hated baseball.
Patty appeared, along with Charlie Brown and Shermy,in the very first Peanuts strip. A fair-haired girl, her closest friend was Violet, however both disappeared by the late 1970s. She played outfield for Charlie Brown's team. Patty pretty much disappeared from the strip after 1970 or so, along with her friend Violet. Her last appearance was on April 17, 1995.
José Peterson was introduced in 1967 as a friend of Peppermint Patty. She recommended him to Charlie Brown to be on his baseball team as he was a very good hitter. After Peppermint Patty was disappointed in the quality of the rest of Charlie Brown's team, she and José decided to start a team in their own neighborhood. Before moving to Peppermint Patty's neighborhood, he had lived in New Mexico and North Dakota. José is notable in that his mixed ancestry — a Swedish-American father and Mexican-American mother — made him one of the first Hispanic characters in U.S. comics. After his his initial appearance, he was rarely, if ever, seen again.
Pig-Pen was the consistantly dirty, having a cloud of dirt and dust that follows him wherever he goes. Once right after washing and dressing in clean clothes, as Charlie Brown watched, Pig-Pen stepped outside and almost instantaneously became dirty and disheveled, and noted, "You know what I am? I'm a dust magnet!" On Charlie Brown's baseball team, he played at third base. He is known for kicking up an even bigger cloud of dirt while running on the basepaths and sliding into bases.
Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt is a tomboy who made her first appearance on August 22, 1966. She loved baseball, regularly playing and easily defeating Charlie Brown's squad. She lives across town from Charlie Brown and his school friends and calls Charlie Brown "Chuck" and Lucy "Lucille."
Roy was a minor character who was prominently featured in a mid-1960s storyline in which he met Charlie Brown at summer camp, becoming his friend due to their mutual loneliness. In a running gag, Roy had forgotten Charlie Brown's name, mentioning him as "that round-headed kid." He always wore a sailor's cap and played for Peppermint Patty's baseball team, possibly as an infielder. He disappeared from the strip in the 1970s.
Schroeder was a skilled pianist who loved classical music and the composer Ludwig van Beethoven. He was the catcher on Charlie Brown's baseball team, and always walked back to the mound with the baseball, never throwing it - which he admitted was to prevent the other team to discover his lack of ability. He is also one of the few players who has any respect for Charlie Brown as a manager. In the 1950s, Charlie Brown's baseball team had to have a sponsor to play games, Schroeder's sponsor was "Beethoven".
Schroeder was the object of Lucy van Pelt's unrequited infatuation she twice destroyed his piano in an attempt to be rid of the "competition" for his affection. He ordered replacement pianos from the Ace Piano Company and along with his new piano, he received an autographed photo of Joe Garagiola.
Shermy was an early character in the comic strip Peanuts, having appeared in the comic's first strip. He role was that of a "straight man" for Charlie Brown and by the late 1950s his appearances were becoming noticeably rare, having been replaced by newer characters.
In a 1977 strip he was referred to by name when Charlie Brown and Lucy were discussing players on their baseball team. He was mentioned as the team's designated hitter, although in his days as a Peanuts regular (which predated the creation of the designated hitter), he usually played first base. He was the team's pitcher in early strips before Charlie Brown took over the mound duties.
Snoopy was Charlie Brown's beagle who made his first appearance in the strip's third strip. He a silent character for the first two years of his existence, but on May 27, 1952 he verbalized his thoughts to readers for the first time via a thought balloon. He frequently daydreams, most famously a World War I flying ace who dueled with Germany's Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron". He would also write on a typewriter with the eternal opener of "It was a dark and stormy night..." (from Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford).
Snoopy played shortstop on the Charlie Brown's team and was an offensive powerhouse. In the last game of 1973, Snoopy was one home run away from breaking Babe Ruth's career record of 714 before Hank Aaron who at the time had 713. However, during his at-bat Charlie Brown was picked off at first base, ending the season, denying his chance at the record.
Snoopy also won the league's Rookie of the Year Award, which caused other teams to notice his skills. He was almost traded to Peppermint Patty's team twice, once for "five good players" (who stopped the deal when they announced they'd rather give up baseball than play for Charlie Brown), and once for Marcie (that trade was canceled after Snoopy turned up with a broken leg).
Snoopy was also at the center of the biggest scandal in Peanuts baseball history, which caused Charlie Brown's team to forfeit a rare win. He had bet Rerun van Pelt a nickel on the game - against his own team - which was then won on a walk-off walk by Rerun.
Linus van Pelt
Linus van Pelt is Charlie Brown's younger best friend who first appeared on September 19, 1952. Though very young, Linus is unusually smart, and he acts as the strip's philosopher and theologian, often quoting Scripture and is fervent in his belief in the Great Pumpkin. Sally has an unrequited crush on him.
Linus generally plays second base on Charlie Brown's team; who, with Snoopy, forms a double-play combo. Linus inappropriately stands on top of second base when taking his position. When Charlie Brown is unable to pitch, Linus takes the mound and is unhittable to the opposition, allowing his team to always win the games in which he pitches.
Lucy van Pelt
Lucy van Pelt is the older sister of Linus van Pelt and Rerun van Pelt. She has a dominant personality, is crabby and cynical, and is often mean to the other characters in the strip, particularly her brother and Charlie Brown. She is a self-proclaimed psychiatrist, although her most prominent patient, Charlie Brown, doesn't really believe she does much good. She is convinced that Schroeder is her boyfriend, despite his denials.
On Charlie Brown's baseball team, Lucy primarily plays center field but has been shown in both right and left field. She is a stupendously inept player, who, when temporarily kicked off the team, turns to heckling the games. She has a knack for coming up with a novel excuse for every fly ball she misses ("The moons of Saturn got in my eyes" or "I think there were toxic substances coming from my glove, and they made me dizzy").
Charlie Brown once traded Lucy to Peppermint Patty's team for Marcie and a pizza. Once Peppermint Patty discovered what a terrible player Lucy really was, she traded her back. Even on the ball field, Lucy continually flirts with Schroeder, who plays catcher on Charlie Brown's team. She even smacked a home run once, when Schroeder promised he'd kiss her at home plate if she hit a dinger.
Rerun van Pelt
Rerun van Pelt was Linus and Lucy's younger brother having been "born" into the strip in 1972, but his first actual appearance was on March 26, 1973. Lucy, who always wanted to be an only child (or have a younger sister), was less than thrilled at the prospect of having a second younger brother, and commented that getting a second younger brother was like watching reruns on television. Thus, Linus came up with the idea of calling the family's new addition "Rerun."
Rerun's first storyline involved a still pre-verbal Rerun becoming a player on Charlie Brown's baseball team and being involved in a gambling scandal that ended in the team having to forfeit one of their rare victories after he won the game on a walk-off walk.
Woodstock was a small yellow bird and friend of Snoopy. He became a full-fledged character on June 22, 1970 (taking his name from the music festival of the previous year). Snoopy is the only non-avian character who can understand his language. He was one of only two players ever cut from Charlie Brown's hapless baseball team. Lucy was the other, but she was quickly reinstated.