Charlie Brown and the team are back on the baseball field in this twenty-four minute short. But, the team is having problems. A toddler named Leland decides that t-ball is no longer his style, and joins Charlie Brown’s “big kids” team. Meanwhile, Lucy has pointed out that they are the only team without uniforms. Charlie Brown goes to the local hardware store to ask the owner if they will sponsor the team. The owner says he will, if they win the first game of the season. With the uniforms as a motivator, the team works hard during their practices.

The team they play looks like a rough bunch of kids. They are serious about the game and plan to win. They ask about the National Anthem, and Charlie Brown and the team lead them in arousing version of “Hokey Pokey”.  Franklin jumps in with his boombox and channels Fresh Prince of Bel Air as he raps, “That’s what’s it all about.” Which is slightly awkward, because it seems so out of place in the story about baseball.

Here is some of it:

And the practice pays off, the team wins 27 to 26! And, Leland, the toddler, gets the winning run!

As promised, the hardware store gives the team their uniforms. Filled with excitement, the team heads to their next game. But, poor Leland’s uniform is too big, and he decides to head back to t-ball, where the uniforms fit. The game doesn’t go as well as the previous game. Disappointed that they lost the game, Linus says, “Gosh, Charlie Brown, I thought when we got new uniforms, it would change everything.” To which, Charlie Brown replies, “It’s not how you look, it’s how you play the game.”

When God sends Samuel to Jesse’s home to anoint the king of Israel, God tells him:

Have no regard for his appearance or stature . . . .God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart. (1 Samuel 16:5, Common English Bible)

Samuel was passing judgement based on the appearance of Jesse’s sons, including David. What is on the outside is not nearly as important as what’s on the inside. It’s the old “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Charlie Brown gets that its not the uniforms that make the team great, it is the way they play the game. How quickly we forget that in the Church. We put so much time, effort, and resources into the “uniforms,” but neglect the way we play – how we proclaim the good news. What’s up with that?

Even though this Peanuts special provides us with a solid message at the end, it is not the best of the Peanuts. This may be why the special was made in 1992 to air in prime time, but was cancelled and reached on DVD in 1996, and released in 2012.