#Hot Corner

Did Peanuts and The Simpsons get their box score details right?

Scott Halleran

Those details can be awfully tricky if you're not careful.

Here's something that's been bugging me for a long time. It's going to change your life, just wait.

We're going to go back to my favorite topic for a second: Peanuts. You know, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock. All those guys. Well, in the strips that introduce Peppermint Patty to Chuck, we learn that she's a die-hard baseball fan -- and that she's a tremendous player!

In their first meeting, Peppermint Patty joins Chuck's team to help them out. Then this happens:

See the full strip here

If you can't read the panel, Peppermint Patty is complaining that, even though she's pitching a no-hitter and has hit five home runs, the team is still losing 37-5. It's hilarious, of course, but something feels weird to me. How can her team have only five runs if she already has five at-bats? If they've sent that many batters to the plate, some of them must have scored, right? Either score a run, record an out, or get stranded on the bases -- those are the only options a batter has.

We already know that none of them have scored a run, so that's out. And if they only ever recorded outs -- if the team never put a single runner on base -- then Patty wouldn't get her fifth at-bat (even in the leadoff spot) until at least the 11th inning. That leaves getting stranded on base. Is there some way that Snoopy, Linus, and everyone could stagger their times on base so that enough players were stranded for Peppermint Patty to get five at-bats in a reasonable number of innings?

Turns out the answer is yes. Take a look.


If the team can send seven batters to the plate every inning that Patty comes up (one home run, three runners on base, three batters recording outs), it's fairly easy to get her five at-bats by the seventh inning. Of course, who is going to believe Charlie Brown's team ever had 20 baserunners in one game?!

How about the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant All-Stars? In that famous game, Darryl Strawberry had nine home runs before Mr. Burns pinch-hit for him. Could Straw really have ten at-bats in a softball game?


Give credit to the writers! The answer is yes. Right before Strawberry is pulled for the right-handed hitter ("It's called playing the percentages!"), we see that the game is tied 43-43. With roughly 26 outs recorded in 82 plate appearances, and with 43 runs driven in, the team would need to have left only 13 runners on base through those nine innings. That is a very easy-to-reach number.

So kudos to Charles Schulz and the writers over at The Simpsons. They're better at imaginary box scores than the folks at DC Comics!

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