Throughout the 2016 season Roar from 34 will use Flashback Fridays to remember the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and honor the 50th anniversary of the franchise’s first World Series title.
The name Charlie Brown doesn’t spring to mind when you think of winning baseball teams. The cartoon player-manager weathered downpours, uninspired teammates, and even the shame of trading his own dog in the pursuit of victory, all of which speak to his resilience and his love for the game of baseball. However, that love didn’t produce many victories (an estimated 10 career wins, if you’re curious).
Charlie Brown does share an association with a World Series champion, though. Kind of.
You can find the name of a member of the 1966 Baltimore Orioles, Gold Glove shortstop Luis Aparicio, in multiple Peanuts cartoons. Aparicio tied for the second-most hits on the team during the 1966 World Series with four. He also played in the 1959 World Series with the Chicago White Sox.
I happened across Aparicio’s name while reading the Peanuts book “A Treasure of Happiness” to my son recently. Among the wisdom offered is this entry: “A friend is someone who will trade you an Alvin Dark for a Luis Aparicio.”
How did Luis Aparicio come to be part of the Peanuts opus? Charles Schulz’s son was enamored with the then-White Sox shortstop, so the cartoonist name-dropped Aparicio on occasion in the comic strip.
[Of note, one of Charles Schulz’s own favorite players as a Minnesota native in the days before the Twins existed was Ollie Bejma. Bejma was a shortstop for the Double-A St. Paul Saints in 1938 who also played briefly for the White Sox (source). The family must have had a thing for shortstops.]
Charlie Brown: Joe Shlabotnik? Really? You have a Joe Shlabotnik? You have a Joe Shlabotnik bubble gum card? He’s my favorite player! I’ve been trying to get him on a bubble gum card for five years! You wanna trade? Here… I’ll give you Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Robin Roberts, Luis Aparicio, Bill Monbouquette, Dick Stuart and Juan Pizarro!
Lucy: No, I don’t think so…
Charlie Brown: How about Nellie Fox, Dick Donovan, Willie Kirkland, Frank Lary, Al Kaline, Orlando Pena, Jerry Lumpe, Camilo Pascual, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Turley and Albie Pearson?
Lucy: No, I don’t want to trade. I think Joe Shlabotnik is kind of cute.
Charlie Brown:[increasingly desperate] I’ll give you Tom Cheney, Chuck Cottier, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax, Frank Robinson, Bob Purkey, Bill Mazeroski, Harvey Haddix, Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, Tony Gonzales, Art Mahaffey, Roger Craig, Duke Snider, Don Nottebart, Al Spangler, Curt Simmons, Stan Musial, Ernie Banks and Larry Jackson!
Lucy: No, I don’t think so…
Charlie Brown: For five years I’ve been trying to get a Joe Shlabotnik! My favorite baseball player, and I can’t get him on a bubble gum card… Five years! My favorite player… [walks away, very depressed]
Lucy:[examines card for a few seconds] He’s not as cute as I thought he was! [tosses card into the trash]
Baltimore fans will be happy to know that when Aparicio came to the Orioles as part of a multi-player deal in 1963, the family loyalties to the player remained and even extended to the new team.
Wrote John O’Ren, “When Luis was traded to Baltimore, dad agreed to wish the Orioles well.”