Peanuts: Charlie Brown, His Friends, and Baseball (Vol. 1, 1951)
by Paul Semendinger
I always enjoyed Charles Schulz’s famous Peanuts comic strips. Like so many people, those characters were a big part of my childhood.
A number of years ago, a collection of books was produced that chronicle the complete and entire collection of every single Peanuts comic strip. With every single strip available, I decided to set about reading the entire collection. (I just completed reading Volume 3 which cover 1955 and 1956.) It is fascinating seeing how the strip and the characters developed over time.
I thought it would be fun to chronicle here the history of how Charles Schulz used baseball in the Peanuts strips.
I hope you enjoy this historical look back at Charlie Brown and his friends and the wonderful game of baseball…
(Each comic strip comes from the wonderful site: Peanuts Wiki.).
The first time baseball was referenced in a Peanuts comic strip was March 6, 1951. Notice that the first time we see Charlie Brown playing ball, he’s not the pitcher, but a catcher:
One of the recurring story lines in the early strips focus on a character named Violet and her fascination for making mud pies. In this strip from April 20, Charles Schulz combines this mud pie theme with baseball.
There’s a wonderful innocence to these early strips.
I remember growing up, playing Wiffle Ball and not having enough of my own money to buy a new ball so we had to make so with balls that were cracked and such. I even remember having a very limited supply of regular baseballs available with which to have a catch. As such, especially related to and enjoyed this strip from June 18:
On June 30, we also saw that baseball was one of the things Charlie Brown valued the most.
On July 10, baseball again appeared.
Again the game is fun and full of joy. There is no angst, even when the player on the other team enjoys success against Charlie Brown’s team. Ol’ Charlie is, once again, a catcher.
On August 24, we get to see Charlie Brown as a pitcher for the very first time. His faithful dog Snoopy seems to be the umpire calling balls and strikes.
And with that strip, the 1951 baseball season (if you will) came to a close.
Coming soon, I’ll share how Peanuts told its story of baseball in 1952.