Charles Schulz, who announced last week that he was retiring his comic strip Peanuts so he could devote himself to his battle against colon cancer, often used sports to make his daily point. In the course of the strip's 49 years, Schulz's characters played everything from hockey and football to golf and tennis; according to United Feature Syndicate, which distributes Peanuts, 10% of the 17,000 strips dealt with baseball.
It's not surprising that the Peanuts gang did so much playing around. The 77-year-old Schulz, who goes by Sparky, is an avid golfer and tennis player. Until he fell ill, Schulz, a St. Paul native, spent most Tuesday evenings playing right wing in an over-40 hockey league at the rink he owns a block from his Santa Rosa, Calif., office. He was elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.
Through sports Charlie Brown, the round-headed kid in the zig-zag striped T-shirt who was Schulz's Everyman, experienced defeat after defeat, yet refused to be defeated himself. Lucy once gave him the following advice: "Don't let your team down by snowing up." Luckily for us, neither he nor his creator—who rarely missed a day at his drawing table—took that advice. We'll miss you, Charlie Brown.