Watching a Curious George clip takes me waaaay back into my childhood. Watching this as an adult viewer, I can’t help but notice that George is a bit of a ball hog and they certainly took some liberties with the rules about pinch running. But I would not have noticed these types of things as an eager six-year-old. And the Cubby Bears vs. the Tiger Babies make for some awfully cute team names.
In addition to the “Charlie Brown’s All Stars!” episode featured on the DVD, the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Charlie Brown’s All Stars! also includes an “episode” consisting of a string of short clips. Entitled “A Charlie Brown Celebration,” many of these clips revolve around the kids’ school experiences, and some around events outside of school. One of these clips was about Peppermint Patty and Marcie having their own baseball-related adventure.
When Peppermint Patty’s team plays Charlie Brown’s team one day, Marcie notes that everyone on Charlie Brown’s team wears a baseball cap. So why, she asks Peppermint Patty, does their own team not wear baseball caps?
Peppermint Patty is untroubled by the lack of baseball caps for her team, but Marcie decides to take it upon herself to come up with the perfect cap for their team to wear. While Peppermint Patty insists that winning is better than having caps, Marcie finds or creates a variety of different caps to present as possible team caps, ranging from the impractical to the downright ridiculous.
Finally, Peppermint Patty gives in, and the two see an advertisement for kids to receive a free ball cap when attending the local professional team’s next game. Peppermint Patty comes up with a scheme to enter the ballpark to receive a free cap, then sneak out by climbing a wall so that she can re-enter to receive another. The plan was to repeat this until they had accumulated nine baseball caps.
However, in a fit of conscience, Marcie decides that having team caps is not worth doing something unethical. She leaves the stadium just as Peppermint Patty is climbing the wall out of the ballpark. With no one to catch her coming down from the wall, Peppermint Patty lands on her head, and she declares that she is glad Marcie had changed her mind because repeating this process nine times likely would have killed her.
In my usual library browsings, I came across the DVD for Charlie Brown’s All Stars! Given the number of Peanuts strips that revolve around baseball, of course I had to give it a watch.
The episode, which first aired in 1966, features Charlie Brown himself and revolves around his struggle to hold together a team that has lost faith in him. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Charlie Brown, as his own team rails on him throughout the episode, calling him a blockhead and constantly blaming him for their string of losses (never mind that they all stand around and stare while Charlie Brown himself chases down every fly ball).
Things come to a head when everyone on the team quits, and Charlie Brown is left without baseball. He desperately begs his teammates to reconsider, but they continually turn him down until Linus tells him that Mr. Hennessy, the owner of the hardware store, is interested in sponsoring Charlie Brown’s team. The sponsorship would include uniforms and the team would become part of an actual league. With the promise of real baseball uniforms, the team agrees to return to playing.
Later, however, Mr. Hennessy calls Charlie Brown and informs hims that while he will be able to provide uniforms for the boys on the team, the league does not allow girls or dogs. Therefore, Charlie Brown would have to let go of the girls on the team (including Lucy, Violet, Patty, and Frieda) and his dog (Snoopy).
This, of course, is a major blow to Charlie Brown. However, with a game coming up, he decides not to tell the team about the uniforms, hoping that the promise of them will encourage them to play a great game and maybe even win. If they win, the team might be so happy about the victory that they would forget about the uniforms.
The team does put on a great show in the game, playing perhaps the best they’d ever played. However, they lose in the end when Charlie Brown’s attempt to steal home and tie the game in the last inning fails. With the sting of such a close loss, Lucy and others tell Charlie Brown that if it were not for the uniforms and the league, they would quit. Charlie Brown then tells the team that he told Mr. Hennessy that the deal was off, but does not go into the details of why. This causes the team to grown angry and storm off.
Linus ends up being the one to reveal to the girls and to Snoopy why the deal had been called off. He points out that Charlie Brown was not willing to sacrifice his friends just to get uniforms, causing the girls and Snoopy to feel bad for how they had treated him. In order to make up for this, they decide to make Charlie Brown a special manager’s uniform, but they decide to use Linus’s security blanket to do so.
The girls and Snoopy present the newly-made uniform to Charlie Brown, who, of course, is pleased with it. He is determined that his team will win the next day, but the next day, it rains, so nobody else shows up to play ball. Charlie Brown stands alone in the rain on the pitcher’s mound, where Linus finds him and tells him that nobody will come to the field. He then tells Charlie Brown that his uniform was made from his blanket. Charlie Brown lets Linus hold the shirt-tail against his cheek and suck his thumb.
I loved this episode because it was Charlie Brown and his crew, and of course because it revolved around baseball. However, I hated how Charlie Brown got treated from start to finish of the whole episode. Yes, this treatment does seem to be par for the course for Charlie Brown, but really, can’t the guy get a break?
I remember watching the occasional Pink Panther episode as a kid, and I always enjoyed them. In this episode, the Pink Panther is transformed into a pitching sensation with a little help from an unlikely source. Enjoy!
This isn’t necessarily baseball-specific, but it’s a fun watch for sports fans in general. This 1941 Looney Tunes cartoon features the hilariously not-so-great of the sports world.
I rarely get to mention this here, because so little of the show ever touches on baseball, but I have been a huge South Park fan for many, many years. The show tends to direct its satire more towards politics and popular culture, rather than sports, but the makers did include one episode in its ninth season that revolves around Little League baseball.
Many of the boys from South Park play on the town’s Little League team, and “The Losing Edge” opens in the last moments of the final game of the regular season. The parents of both teams sit in the stands, cheering their kids on. The South Park boys, meanwhile, are spread out of the field in their defensive positions, moaning about how much they despise baseball. Token yawns miserably at first base and Butters is singing in the outfield to a ladybug, completely oblivious to what is going on with the game. Meanwhile, in the stands, Stan’s father Randy Marsh is drunk and picking a fight with a dad from the other team, which causes Stan to squeeze his eyes in embarrassment, even though it seems evident this isn’t the first time this has happened.
The boys win the game and begin to celebrate that their season is finally over so that, “We can start having fun again!” Their enthusiasm is quickly shot down, however, when they learn that because they finished with the best record in the division, they are now going into the postseason. Discussing their bad luck over celebratory pizza, Stan points out that the finals are sudden death elimination, and the boys agree to deliberately lose a game while making it look like they are trying to win.
What the boys did not count on, however, is that every other Little League team in the area also hates the game and wants to lose as much as they do. Each game, therefore, becomes a competition not to win, but to play worse than the other guy. The South Park boys, it turns out, are too good at baseball, and keep advancing through the finals.
Randy Marsh, meanwhile, apparently takes his Little League dad brawls seriously. Every game sees Randy stripping off his shirt at some point as he hollers at another dad, ending with him bloody, bruised, and getting led by an officer to a police cruiser. As he’s handcuffed and getting dragged away, Randy yells at the police, “This is America!” Because apparently, in Randy’s mind, American freedom includes the right to fight whomever he wishes.
No matter how much they try, the South Park boys cannot manage to lose a game, and suddenly they find themselves qualifying for the Colorado state championship, to be played at Coors Field. To make matters worse, they learn that if they win this game, their entire season starts over on the national circuit. When the South Park team meets their opponents, a team from Denver, Randy also gets to meet the Denver team’s dad brawler, a large and imposing man in a bat costume known as “Bat Dad.”
Randy is so intimidated by the Bat Dad, he resolves not to attend the championship game at all. The championship game gets underway, and the South Park boys are aghast to discover that the Denver team have become experts at sucking. (As a side note, every time I watch this episode, I cannot help but wonder: if the Denver team truly excelled at sucking, wouldn’t they have been eliminated long ago?) Just as it is beginning to look like South Park is going to lose their entire summer to baseball, Randy Marsh shows up with a beverage tray full of beers, calling out, “Denver sucks!” Before long, he and the Bat Dad are in each other’s faces.
I love the social commentary this episode provides. Obviously, the plot around Randy and his brawls is a hilarious poke at all the Little League parents who take the competition a little too seriously at that level, as well as parents who just can’t seem to be civil in public and make it all about themselves. As for the boys, I love the comedy created by turning the goal of the game on its head. The teams involved engage in reverse trash talking, telling each other things like, “We’re going down! We’re gonna get creamed!” Their attitudes reflect the ridiculousness of how we sometimes force our kids to do things that they hate just because it’s the socially accepted thing to do. Rather than squeezing kids into a box of having to play a particular sport or instrument or do some other activity just because we think they should, parents would do well to listen to their kids and take a moment to consider what they want.
A few years ago for Christmas, I gifted my nephews each with baseball gloves. The good news is, they recognized what they were and even showed a little enthusiasm for them. The bad news, I am pretty sure those gloves have since settled into a home at the bottom of the toy box.