Peanuts, Cracker Jack, and … Comic Strips!

We here at The Library of American Comics are big fans of the grand ol’ game, and as this sampler of newspaper features shows, plenty of other persons involved in the comics industry root-root-root for the home team, just as we do.

This year, Major League Baseball has instituted new rules designed to address the core issue cartoonist Steve Moore lampooned in this 1996 installment of In the Bleachers:

Other rule changes seek to inject more offense into the game. Those in my age group remember the days when that didn’t seem to be an issue, and no player represented a hard-nosed, all-out-on-every-play winning attitude more than “Charlie Hustle,” Pete Rose of the World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds (1975-76) and Philadelphia Phillies (1980):

Many who came along after Pete Rose’s playing days join us in remembering “the steroids era,” in which a number of players sought to inject offense into the games by means that ran counter to the sport’s published rules. Wiley Miller referenced that period in this wry installment of Non Sequitur, published in 2010:

By now marketing and merchandising are so tightly embedded in all major sports that we take it for granted — but it was not always that way, as the talented team of Millar and Hinds remind us from this 1976 Tank McNamara. And no baseball-in-comics overview would be complete without including an installment from Ozark Ike, a strip that was all about a country boy making it good as a big leaguer:

This article-poster’s all-time favorite moment featuring baseball in a comic strip is the March 30, 1996 installment of Peanuts, in which creator Charles Schulz delivers the most unexpected result of all. We’re including the strips immediately before and immediately after the climactic March 30th installment; taken as a unit, these three comics form an example of storytelling at its finest: the dramatic build-up, the surprising and powerful climax, then the ending flourish that provides that final, satisfying “kick” to the reader:

So here’s to another season with the boys of summer, and to the daily beat of baseball that hums along in the background through springtime’s blooming, the dog days of summer, and the crisp chill that culminates in The October Classic. We’ll turn again to Tank McNamara‘s Bill Hinds for the last word, in his solo 21st Century comic strip, Cleats:

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