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The initial cast of Peanuts was small, featuring only Charlie Brown, Shermy, Patty (not to be confused with Peppermint Patty) and (two days after the release of the first strip) a beagle, Snoopy. The first addition, Violet, was made on February 7, 1951. Other character introductions that soon followed were Schroeder, on May 30, 1951, as a baby; Lucy, on March 3, 1952; Lucy's baby brother Linus, on September 19, 1952 (after his existence was first mentioned back on July 14); and Pig-Pen, on July 13, 1954.
Though the strip did not have a lead character at the onset, it soon began to focus on Charlie Brown, a character developed from some of the painful experiences of Schulz' formative years. In early strips Charlie Brown was depicted as distinctly younger than his cohorts Patty and Shermy. Charlie Brown's main characteristic is either self-defeating stubbornness or admirable determined persistence to try his best against all odds: he can never win a ballgame but continues playing baseball; he can never fly a kite successfully but continues trying to do so. Though his inferiority complex was evident from the start, in the earlier strips he also got in his own jabs when verbally sparring with Patty and Shermy. Some early strips also involved romantic attractions between Charlie Brown and Patty or Violet. On September 1, 1958 Charlie Brown's father was formally revealed to be a barber (after earlier instances in the strip that linked Charlie Brown to barbers by implication). In 1960, the now popular line of Charlie Brown greeting cards was introduced by Hallmark Cards. Charlie Brown and Snoopy reached new heights on May 18, 1969 as they became the names of the command module and lunar module, respectively, for Apollo 10.
As the years went by, Shermy, Patty and Violet appeared less often and were demoted to supporting roles (eventually disappearing from the strip in 1969, 1976, and 1984 respectively, although Patty and Violet were still seen as late as November 27, 1997), while new major characters were introduced. Schroeder, Lucy van Pelt, and her brother Linus debuted as very young children—with Schroeder and Linus both in diapers and pre-verbal. Snoopy also started to verbalize his thoughts via thought bubbles.
One recurring theme in the strip is Charlie Brown's neighborhood baseball team. Charlie Brown is the player-manager of the team and, usually, its pitcher, and Schroeder is the catcher. The other characters of the strip comprise the rest of the team, including Linus playing as second baseman and Lucy as right fielder. Charlie Brown is a terrible pitcher, often giving up tremendous hits which either knock him off the mound or leave him with only his shorts on. The team itself is also poor, with only Snoopy, at shortstop, being particularly competent. Because of this, the team consistently loses. However, while the team is often referred to as "win-less," it does win at least ten games over the course of the strip's run, most of these when Charlie Brown is not playing, a fact that Charlie Brown finds highly dispiriting.