Who has the best facial hair in baseball history?
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There have always been home runs and strikeouts in baseball. Another big part of baseball? Ballplayers with mustaches, beards and sideburns.
Most baseball players had mustaches at the turn of the 20th century. That changed by the 1930s. That is when the trimmers came out. The fuzzy upper lip was banned. The rule was not plainly stated, but it was an unwritten rule of conduct.
The idea was to make the game more family friendly. They did this by keeping the boys clean-shaven and well groomed. It was a shift in social manners. They said that decent men should be clean-shaven. It reinforced the move away from players with mustaches.
Baseball players would remain clean-shaven for several decades. That was until 1972. A mustache clad Reggie Jackson arrived at spring training. He was playing for the Oakland A's. The look was not a hit with his fellow teammates. But their manager liked it. He offered each player $300 to grow his own 'stache.
In the 1970s, facial hair represented a growing counterculture. The move by the A's was one that was heavily debated. Almost all of the team did grow their mustaches out for the bonus. That earned the team the nickname "The Mustache Gang."
The following years were a confusing time for baseball facial hair. Individual clubs like the Brewers and the Blue Jays issued bans on facial hair. Other clubs allowed players to have full heads and faces of hair. The afro was a big hairstyle during this time.
Baseball has seen a number of players with mustaches since the late 70s. Recently released statistics on the last decade of All-Star Games show something interesting. It seems that those with facial hair actually outperform clean-shaven players. But even if the mustache does not make the man, it sure makes the man memorable.
Here are 10 players with memorable facial hair in baseball history.
Jim O'Rourke began his pro baseball career in 1872. He played until he was over 50. He was a catcher for the New York Giants. During a Sept. 22, 1904, game he became the oldest player to play in the National League. O'Rourke had a bushy crumb catcher of a mustache all those years. It hung low past his mouth.
Rollie Fingers has had a classic handlebar mustache since his early pitching days for the Oakland A's. That was in the 1970s. (He also played for the San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers.) His facial hair is one of the most known in the game. He said it only takes 15 seconds and little bit of wax to maintain. "If it took any longer than that I would shave it off," he said.
Al Hrabosky started his career pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. That was in 1970. He finished out his run 12 years later. He was with the Atlanta Braves. Today he is a clean-shaven sports reporter. When he was playing he had fierce facial hair. His 'stache flowed out beyond his chin. He also had a cool attitude. Because of these things, his look often was mistaken for anger. That earned him the nickname "The Mad Hungarian."
Keith Hernandez's played for the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets. He played in the '70s and '80s. He earned the Gold Glove 11 seasons in a row. This was the most by any first baseman in baseball history. And it was proof that Hernandez was a skilled defensive player. In 2007 his flavor savor was in the spotlight. It gained fame thanks to the American Mustache Institute. The organization is a nonprofit. It promotes social approval of mustaches. They asked the public to vote on the greatest sports mustache of all time. The winner? Hernandez's tea strainer.
David Ortiz plays for the Boston Red Sox. His facial hair is not about keeping his chin warm. It is about form. He wears a close-shaven chinstrap beard. It likely needs frequent trimming and sculpting. Ortiz's nickname is "Big Papi." He is one of 51 players in major league history to hit at least 400 career home runs. He is also a nine-time All-Star. Those statistics lend weight to the argument that a scratchy chin might mean higher performance.
Scott Spiezio is a former infielder. He began his major-league career in 1996. He was playing with the Oakland A's. His biggest moment came six years later. He was playing for the Anaheim Angels in the 2002 World Series. The Angels were losing to the San Francisco Giants. Then Spiezio hit a three-run home run. The blast led the Angels to victory. He joined the St. Louis Cardinals a few years later and debuted a scraggly soul patch. It was dyed bright red. You have to wonder if actual cardinals ever mistook the facial hair for an actual small bird.
Washington Nationals right-fielder Jayson Werth came to D.C. from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. He was a 2009 National League All-Star. He had a tame goatee on the center of his chin. Werth and his facial hair have continued to thrive since 2010. He reached 1,280 career hits this summer. His beard has grown too. Now it is a thick grizzly mane. It even has its own Twitter account.
Brian Wilson is a former relief pitcher. He began growing his dark beard while playing for the Giants in 2010. He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers after that. His facial hair has gotten a lot of attention. A Virgin America airplane had the team's logo. It also had a Wilson-like mustache painted on its nose. That was in 2012.
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland is nicknamed the "Dutch Oven." He is known for his left arm. He has a fun-loving attitude. He is also known for the little squiggle that lives on his upper lip. It makes the 28-year-old look even younger. And that is something mustaches rarely do. "It is the first time I have ever had anything like that. To do something and the crowd gets into it," Holland once said of its popularity. "I mean, I had little kids wearing fake mustaches. I got women wearing mustaches. It is unbelievable. It is something cool."
John Axford wears a mustache. He was a relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. He now plays for the Colorado Rockies. His mustache gives people a slight case of deja vu. That is because his handlebar mustache reminds people of baseball great Rollie Fingers. But Axford's has built its own reputation. The pitcher received the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award in 2011. It was given to him by the American Mustache Institute.