20th anniversary: Charlie Brown’s moment in the sun

Twenty years ago, the impossible happened. The most legendarily bad team’s most hapless player won a game, and the eternal goat had his moment in the sun as a hero.

On March 30, 1993, Charlie Brown hit a game-winning home run. Yeah, that Charlie Brown, the fictional one. The guy from the comic strip who always said “Good grief.” Him.

In Charles Schultz’s world-renowned comic strip “Peanuts,” Charlie Brown is the pitcher and head honcho of a Little League team that is consistently horrible. They seemingly always lose, and it generally ain’t close. They’ll give up dozens of runs per game—or even inning. As the pitcher, Charlie Brown was known for giving up line drives up the middle that were so fast they knocked his clothes off.

The team did occasionally win games, but rarely (if ever) thanks to Charlie Brown. The team apparently won 10 games in the history of Peanuts, usually when Charlie Brown wasn’t there. A few times they even won by forfeit.

But on March 30, 1993, it was different. Batting against Roxanne Hobbs, the great-granddaughter of Roy Hobbs (the fictional star from The Natural), Brown hits a walk-off home run that wins the game for his team. For the first time in decades, they won the game because of Charlie Brown. No reason to cry “WAHHH!” this time.

Schultz said he started with the panel of Brown ecstatically doing cartwheels saying that he was the hero and then worked backwards from there. After decades of futility, Brown had his moment.

In fact, Brown had another moment, too. Three months later, on June 29, Brown did it again, belting a walk-off homer, and again it was off Roxanne Hobbs. This time, however, there was a catch. She admitted she let him hit the homers intentionally. But when you’re Charlie Brown, you take what you can get. He didn’t care, he’d had his moments of glory.

(Actually, it’s rather surprising that he was 2-for-2 in grooved pitches anyway. Who knew Brown had that much hand-eye coordination to hit it that accurately, or that he had so much strength to knock the sucker out of the park? Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.)

At any rate, Brown did have his moment, and that moment was 20 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other baseball events today have their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.

Day-versaries

1,000 days since Esmil Rogers has what WPA considers the belief relief stint in the history of the Rockies. His line: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K for a 0.583 WPA.

1,000 days since Drew Stubbs of the Reds hits three homers in one game.

3,000 days since the Dodgers sign free agent Derek Lowe.

3,000 days since Arizona trades four players to the Dodgers for Shawn Green.

3,000 days since Arizona trades future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to the Yankees for Javier Vazquez, two other players, and cash.

4,000 days since Austin Kearns makes his big league debut.

4,000 days since Erik Bedard makes his big league debut.

5,000 days since Orel Hershiser wins his 200th game, giving him a 200-140 record.

5,000 days since Cleveland Indians manager Mike Hargrove accidentally hands in the wrong lineup card to the umpires, costing his team its DH for the game.

6,000 days since former big leaguer Frank Torre (and big brother of Yankees manager Joe Torre) receives a heart transplant.

8,000 days since Bob Welch suffers the worst Game Score of his career: 2. His line: 4.2 IP, 13 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, and 4 K. Thank God for those strikeouts or it would’ve been a negative score.

9,000 days since the first attempted night game takes place at Wrigley Field – and it gets rained out. 91-year-old fan Harry Grossman throws the switch turning the lights on. Morganna the Kissing Bandit makes what might be her last ever appearance.

9,000 days since Rick Reed makes his big league debut.

20,000 days since Reds batter Johnny Temple hits a two-out, walk-off triple for a 6-5 win over the Giants.

20,000 days since Billy Pierce nearly throws out a perfect game. He retires the first 26 batters, but then Ed Fitz Gerald tags him for a pinch-hit double with two outs in the ninth. Pierce gets the next guy out to preserve the shutout, which is his third straight.

40,000 days since Bill Bradley hits for the cycle.

40,000 days since Jimmy Ryan, a star center fielder, plays in his last game.

Anniversaries

1857 Tom Burns, infielder, is born. He will be part of a steady 1880s Cubs infield featuring Cap Anson, Ned Williamson, Fred Pfeffer, and Burns.

1866 George Van Haltren, 19th-century outfielder who is one of the best players not in Cooperstown, is born.

1904 Ripper Collins is born. As a star for the 1934 world champions St. Louis Cardinals Gashouse Gang, he’ll lead the league in homers, total bases, and slugging percentage.

1921 Dick Fowler, pitcher, is born. He’ll lead the AL in losses in 1946, with 16.

1948 Murry Dickson of the Cardinals pitches the first nine-inning no-hitter in spring training history.

1949 Bill Bernhard, pitcher, dies at age 78. He led the AL in winning percentage in 1902: .783 (18-5).

1952 Deacon Phillippe, high-quality early 20th-century pitcher with the Pirates, dies at age 79. He had six 20-win seasons, including each of his first five seasons (1899-1903).

1955 The A’s purchase Ewell Blackwell from the Yankees for $50,000.

1956 The Cubs trade Hank Sauer to St. Louis.

1965 The Indians purchase Stan Williams from the Yankees.

1966 Houston signs Robin Roberts as a free agent.

1966 The joint holdout by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale ends. Estimates are that Koufax will make $120,000 and Drysdale will get $105,000.

1969 The Pirates sign amateur free agent Omar Moreno.

1971 The Mets trade Dean Chance to the Tigers.

1972 The A’s release Tommy Davis.

1972 Davy Jones, Tigers outfielder during the Ty Cobb days, dies at age 91. He’s the last survivor of the 1907-09 Tigers three-peat pennant winners.

1972 Marvin Miller completes his canvassing of player support for a strike. He reckons that 663 players support a strike, 10 oppose it, and two abstain.

1973 Jason Dickson, pitcher, is born. He’ll be a rookie All-Star with the 1997 Angels but then soon blow his arm out.

1977 Cleveland releases overweight veteran Boog Powell.

1978 Billy Cox, infielder, dies at age 58. He was a standout defensive third baseman for the 1950s Boys of Summer Dodgers.

1978 The Indians trade Dennis Eckersley and Fred Kendall to Boston for Rick Wise, Bo Diaz, and two others.

1978 Josh Bard, backup catcher for several teams, is born.

1979 The umpires vote 50-2 to reject a new contract offer from the AL and NL. Instead, they’ll strike when the season begins.

1981 The White Sox purchase Greg Luzinski from the Phillies.

1982 Kansas City trades Atlee Hammaker and three others to San Francisco for Vida Blue and one other. Hammaker will win an ERA title with the Giants in 1983.

1982 The Giants trade Doyle Alexander to the Yankees.

1984 The Yankees trade Graig Nettles to the Padres for Dennis Rasmussen and a player to be named later.

1988 Los Angeles signs Rick Dempsey as a free agent.

1989 Young stud White Sox pitcher Chris Sale is born.

1991 Houston signs amateur free agent Melvin Mora.

1992 It’s one of the biggest crosstown trades in Chicago history, as the send former AL MVP George Bell to the South Side in exchange for future NL MVP Sammy Sosa. Yeah, the Cubs get the better of this deal.

1993 Toronto releases pitcher David Wells.

1994 Oakland releases future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage.

1998 Cleveland trades Sean Casey to the Reds for Dave Burba.

2000 Benny Agbayani hits a pinch-hit grand slam in a 5-1 win in 11 innings for the Mets over the Cubs in Japan’s Tokyo Dome.

2001 Dwight Gooden announces his retirement from baseball.

2001 Mets prospect Brian Cole dies when his SUV flips.

2005 Boston trades Byung-Hyun Kim and cash to Colorado for Charles Johnson and another player. Boston releases Johnson the same day.

2007 The A’s sign free agent Todd Walker.

2008 In the first game played at the new Nationals Park, Washington tops Atlanta, 4-3.

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Comments

  1. Hank G. said...

    I don’t think Charlie Brown’s team was Little League. After all, it has a dog as its shortstop and had girls on the team long before they were allowed in Little League.

  2. dennis Bedard said...

    Re:  Drysdale and Koufax in 1966.  I printed out two columns: one with Milt Pappas’ statistics and the other with Drysdale’s.  Taped it on my wall near my computer.  One is in the Hall of Fame and the other is not.  Other than that, they are pretty much the same.  I wonder if he was at all embarrassed about showing up in Cooperstown to accept his plaque.  Good pitcher but HOF material?  No way.

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