(Takes off critic's hat, puts it in box.) That's it, I'm done. I accepted Beethoven sponsoring Schroeder, but a dog playing baseball? That's too weird for me.
What's that you say? Snoopy has already done things far weirder than that, including moving into a doghouse hotel and erecting a TV antenna on his house. Sigh. If you insist. (Puts hat back on.)
I'm not sure if this is actually the first strip that implies or outright shows Snoopy as a player. It's possible at this point that he's just the team's mascot. In Peanuts' odd context, as Snoopy becomes weirder and more capable it makes increasing sense to use him as a player, although Schulz has fun with the idea for many years to come. (Remember "Peppermint" Patty's reaction? It took her years to figure that one out.)
I'm reminded, perversely, of those loathsome "Air Bud" movies Disney puts out, in which a Labrador Retriever proves to be freakishly capable at various sports. You know the ones, they're part of that long and hateful tradition of animal sports movies. They nearly always have a scene with a flabbergasted ref looking through a rulebook, then saying "There's no rule that says dogs can't play, guh-huck!" Yeah, and there's no rule about murdering your opponents either OMG IMA GENIUS.
Let's have a look at the Wikipedia synopsis for that movie:
After the death of his father, who has died in a plane crash, Josh moves with his family to Washington State and is too shy to try out for his middle school's basketball team and too shy to make any friends. He meets Buddy, a Golden Retriever who had escaped from his cruel owner, an alcoholic clown named Norman Snively, who had locked Buddy in a kennel after causing trouble at a birthday party and was taking him to the dog pound when the kennel fell off the truck. Josh soon learns that Buddy has the uncanny ability to play basketball....
Oh look, the dog plays baseball in the 2002 sequel called time to make the scare quotes "Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch":
Josh is off to his first year of college and Buddy has stayed behind with Josh's little sister, Andrea, and the rest of the family. Andrea, attempting to fit in with her Jr. High classmates, decides to join the baseball team and along the way discovers that Buddy also has the uncanny ability to play baseball. Just as the season is settling in, a terrible discovery is made - Buddy's puppies, have mysteriously started disappearing with the help of kidnappers' little helper, Rocky Raccoon. Turns out the kidnappers' were researchers who were kidnapping Air Bud's pups because they thought they had a special gene that would enable them to play sports.
I bring up these upsetting artifacts of popular culture to illustrate, by way of contrast, how awesome Peanuts really is.
The text of ROASTED PEANUTS is copyright 2009-2011 by John Harris. No copyright is claimed over the comic strips, which are here under the principle of fair use. Strips presented for review purposes only. We love Peanuts a whole lot, and wouldn't dream of exploiting it. Please don't sue us; we're only trying to love. Thank you for reading this notice.