BIRTHPLACE: Minneapolis, Minn.
BORN: November 26, 1922
DIED: February 12, 2000
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Builder and No. 1 Fan
Good Grief!” Here’s a world-famous hockey player, Snoopy, taking on Woodstock on a frozen birdbath. Here’s the world-famous “Peanuts” cartoonist, arena-builder, and organizer of “Snoopy’s Senior Hockey Tournament.” Charles Schulz, going into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Growing up in St. Paul, Schulz shot tennis balls in his grandmother’s basement, coaxed his mother to make goalie pads out of gunny sacks with rolled-up newspaper sewn inside, and was enthralled when his parents took him to St. Paul Saints and Minneapolis Millers games in the 1930s. His father made a rink in the family’s backyard, and Schulz and his friends even played by lamplight on frozen streets or neighborhood school rinks.
After graduating from St. Paul Central High, Schulz went on to art school in Minneapolis. There, he created a comic strip about the adventures of a group of preschoolers (including a kid named Charlie Brown) called “Li’l Folks,” which appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1947. United Features Syndicate bought the strip in 1950 and renamed it “Peanuts” because ‘Li’l Folks” sounded too much like another cartoon, “Li’l Abner.” Seven newspapers carried the original “Peanuts” strip on October 2, 1950, and the numbers have grown ever since.
He later moved on to California, where he became one of the world's most famous cartoonists. The multiple Emmy winner’s cartoons are now read by several hundred million people in 68 countries, who speak 26 different languages.
All the while, his love for hockey traveled with him when his cartooning career led him to the West Coast. Schulz’s five children learned to skate at the only arena in the Santa Rosa area. When the arena closed, Schulz’s first wife, Joyce, convinced him to build the Redwood Empire Arena near his studio in 1969.
Supported by his second wife, Jeannie, Schulz started a senior hockey tournament at his arena in the early 1970s. The tournament soon became more than a place for Schulz to demonstrate his “off-wing” style as a forward. From a dozen first-year teams, it has grown into the world’s largest senior hockey tournament. In 1993, 188 “over-40” teams applied for the 56 spots. A unique “over-70” bracket with four teams was also added. “They were just waiting for me to turn 70,” Schulz joked. Schulz was also honored in 1981 by winning the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey.