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Jun252010

MLB, Marketers Honor Peanuts' Diamond Event: Play Ball, Charlie Brown!

June 25, 2010: When Jake Norworth wrote the words to "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" in 1908, he  didn't know that one particular line would reverberate in both baseball and comic strip history.

"Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack" is as famous a line in song as any. On Oct. 2, 1950, Charles Schulz likely had heard that song when the first "Peanuts" comic strip appeared in print. The iconic strip, which contained numerous baseball (as well as other sports) plot lines, was written and illustrated by Schulz and ran with original versions until Feb. 13, 2000, the day after his death. Since then, previously published strips have remained in syndication.

This year, to honor the 60th anniversary of the strip, Schulz'  family has teamed with MLB to honor Charlie Brown (the star of Peanuts, not the real Charlie Brown who pitched in four games for the Cleveland Spiders in 1897, going 1-2 with a 7.77 ERA) and his gang. Among the festivities are bobble head days with such teams as  the San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Schulz' hometown team Minnesota Twins; appearances by Peanuts characters such as Lucy; and a traveling Peanuts at Bat! exhibit, which is part of the The Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., featuring dozens of Peanuts baseball-themed strips, photographs and memorabilia.

Among other events, on July 14, the day after the MLB All-Star Game, ABC-TV will air Lucy Must Be Traded Charlie Brown, which originally aired in 2003 and has since been on DVD (Paramount).

The diamond 60th anniversary party is hitting MLB diamonds under the auspices of Peanuts Worldwide, a joint venture between Iconix Brand Group, New York, and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates. Other brands are also on the roster, include Hallmark, the exclusive destination for Peanuts 60th anniversary products such as plush, giftware and Keepsakes ornaments; Yahtzee: Peanuts 60th Anniversary Collectors Edition by USAopoly, Snoopy Flying Ace videogame for Xbox Live Arcade, Celebrating Peanuts: 60 Years by Andrews McMeel, The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World's Most Beloved Comic Strip by Little, Brown and tank tops by Mighty Fine.

Upcoming events with MLB teams include Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (June 26) when Schulz' daughter Jill Schulz will throw out the first pitch and fans will get Snoopy bobbleheads courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm); Cleveland Indians (Aug. 8) with an appearance by Peanuts characters; and the Minnesota Twins (Aug.15) with a visit from Peanuts characters and Peanuts-themed activities.

The San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers held Peanuts' events earlier in June.

The Schulz Museum’s Peanuts at Bat! exhibit will travel to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisc. (June 26 - Aug. 29) and the Washakie Museum in Worland, Wyoming (Sept. 23 – Nov. 3).

According to Peanuts Worldwide, nearly 10% of the 18,000 Peanuts comic strips were baseball-themed.

"My dad had a great fondness for baseball, and often shared his memories of playing with the neighborhood kids as a young child, using just a stick and whatever they could find as a ball," Jill Schulz said in a statement. "His love of the sport shows through in the many baseball challenges faced by Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang in the comic strip and television shows throughout the years."

As to why the baseball team on which Charlie Brown pitches loses all his games, Jill Schulz said that her Dad would explain, "Everyone experiences losing at one time or another — people can identify with losing. Very few people experience winning all the time."

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Reader Comments (6)

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