From the archive
French version of the Peanuts strip for 26 December 1969.
Joe Shlabotnik is a minor-league baseball player who, inexplicably, is greatly admired by Charlie Brown. He never appears in the strip, but is occasionally mentioned by Charlie Brown as his hero and is part of several plots involving Charlie Brown:
- Joe is introduced (with no name yet) when Charlie Brown reads in the paper that his “baseball hero” is sent down to the minor leagues for a low batting average.
- In 1964, Charlie spends $5.00 (a huge sum of money for a child back then; equal to $37 adjusted for inflation) on 500 penny packs of bubble-gum cards (incidentally, the last year Topps offers penny packs) to get a Joe Shlabotnik card, but none of the 500 cards he buys has Joe’s picture. Lucy then buys one penny pack, and it turns out to be a Joe card. Charlie Brown offers Lucy his entire baseball card collection in trade for Lucy’s Joe Shlabotnik card, which he has been trying to get for five years. Lucy declines, then (after Charlie Brown walks away, dejected) throws the card into a receptacle, deciding Joe is “not as cute as I thought he was.”
- In his Joe Shlabotnik Fan Club News, Charlie Brown writes that Joe, now playing in the Green Grass League, batted .143, made some “spectacular catches of routine fly balls” and “threw out a runner who had fallen down between first and second.” The newsletter lasts only one issue, owing to Lucy’s comment on it: “Who needs it?”
- Charlie Brown and Linus attend a sports banquet so that Charlie Brown can sit next to planned attendee Joe Shlabotnik, who doesn’t show up because he had “marked the wrong date on his calendar, the wrong city, and the wrong event.”