It has been a while since he retired and became a coach. But it is an honor to have interviewed Joe Shlabotnik, the hero of Charlie Brown (Peanuts).
His career as a major league player lasted only (a part of) one season. After he batted an abysmal .004 he was sent down to the minors (to the long-defunct Green Grass League). His sole hit was a bloop single when his team had a very comfortable lead. He also managed to throw out a player at second from the outfield when the player tripped on his way to second.
After his active career, he agreed on becoming a manager of the Waffletown Syrups. But also as a manager, his career was shortlived. During one game, with no runners on base, he ordered a bunt. After that move, he got his release.
Like most kids, Joe started to play baseball at the age of six. He was destined to have a great career as he earned a spot in his local little league team where his father was the coach. During high school, he mainly served as a bench warmer, a position he excelled at.
Eventually, he got a scholarship for the University of Hackensack where he got his degree in arconomics. As a ballplayer, he batted .123 at college level so it is still a big mystery how Joe was drafted. He was the very last draft pick of the very last round in 1959. It is rumored that Joe’s father was a close friend of one of the General Managers of the Major League clubs and that he “convinced” him to pick his son.
On the question who was his biggest example, Joe answered: “My dad. He showed me how to reach my goals by shoving others aside and jockeying for position. That’s exactly what brought me that far. Not many players did have a one year career in the Bigs.”
Joe Shlabotnik is still feeling honored for being mentioned in the comic “Peanuts.” As Joe admitted he is quite messy at times, this explains why he did not show up at a testimonial dinner and a sports banquet where Charlie Brown would be as well. In the first case he lost his way at a car wash and in the second case, he marked the wrong date and wrong event at his calendar. As a result, Charlie Brown never managed to meet his hero.
I’d like to thank Joe Shlabotnik, who is nearing his 99th birthday, for the time he took to answer the questions.