There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, writers making moronic decisions in the Hall of Fame vote, and Charlie Brown’s baseball team getting trounced every summer.
For fifty years, Charlie Brown took the field with his makeshift ballclub – the piano playing Schroeder behind the plate, the apathetic Lucy in centerfield, the blanket-toting Linus at second, and Snoopy, the slobbery superstar, at shortstop – and took beating after beating. Finding themselves on the wrong side of scores like 123-0 and 93-0 on a regular basis, the Peanuts crew was just never the talented powerhouse that Charlie Brown hoped for. But boy did they try. Few managers, and few teams, would have the heart to go out there day-after-day against such odds, but Charlie Brown and his crew were forever optimistic. It was endearing.
But losing takes it toll – if not on Charlie Brown’s spirits then, at the very least, in the record books. After decades of losing and seemingly-countless knockdown line-drives up the middle (the first one came in 1963), the stats can’t look too favorably on Team Peanuts. However, save for a short time when Linus was also team statistician, no one has ever taken the time to compile their stats. Granted, they aren’t going to be pretty, but someone should find the answer to the questions: how many games did Charlie Brown’s team lose? how many did they win? how many times did Charlie Brown get knocked over by a line-drive? and so on…
If Retrosheet has taught us anything, it’s that, in this day and age, just about anything is possible. We don’t exactly have box scores, scorecards, or play-by-play analysis of all the games Team Peanuts played, but we do have this: The Complete “Peanuts”, Volume 1. For the past six years (and for the next six years), Fantagraphics Books has been releasing the complete run of the Peanuts comic strip, with two years’ of strips per volume at two volumes a year. As of today, every Peanuts strip from 1950 through 1974 has been published and is available at your local store.
Using my collection of these books (which only goes through 1970 for now – I’ve got to get on that), I’ve done my best to find every baseball-related strip produced in those twenty years and tally up any relevant stats that they reveal. For the most part this means counting wins and losses and documenting any stated scores, though there are a few strips here and there that mention other stats. I like to think of it as “Retrosheet: The Peanuts Chronicles”.
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You may be surprised at some of the data that I found. Maybe the number of total losses is lower than you expected, or the number of wins is too high (or, for that matter, the number of championships that Team Peanuts played for)… I know I expected some higher loss totals. But it does make sense if you think about it. Some of the possible explanations:
- The baseball season only lasts six months, and Charles Schulz couldn’t exactly write a baseball strip everyday. As such, there might be fewer total baseball strips than you might think.
- Of this total number of strips, only a small percentage of them would tell you the final result of the game. Instead, the strips might focus on something silly Lucy is doing in the field, or Charlie Brown’s struggles with one particular batter, or just show the team practicing for a game. Usually, we would only find out how a game actually ended if that was a part of the storyline – e.g., Charlie Brown walking away depressed because he struck out to end the game or Lucy and the gang shrugging the loss off their shoulders because they’ve “built an immunity to losing.”
- It’s still a cartoon world, so consistency with strips of years’ past can’t be expected. Much like how the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant might be 5 miles away from the Simpsons’ home in one episode of The Simpsons and sharing a fence with it in another, we have to expect a little bit of flexibility in the Peanuts‘ world. If Charlie Brown is playing for the championship in one summer but can’t remember ever scoring a run the next, we can’t raise a fuss.
As I said above, my set of “Complete Peanuts” books only go through 1970. I do have access to other books published in the ’70s and later, but I am not going to include that data in the record until I get the complete data for that year. The time that Snoopy chased Hank Aaron for the home run crown, for example, isn’t yet included in these data.
The data is listed year-by-year and grouped by decade. All wins, losses, score updates, and other mentioned statistics are described. I also tried to give a little bit of insight into what was happening in each given year. As my collection of “Complete Peanuts” books increases, I’ll update these pages. This page will act as the main hub for the data, so feel free to bookmark it.
Click below for Charlie Brown’s statistics by decade: