Thursday, April 24, 2014

Beards of Baseball

I don't often watch baseball, but early this season I saw part of a game on television and noticed quite a lot of facial hair on the players.  It made me wonder if this was a new thing or some harkening back to old traditions.

So I did some research.

20th Century Baseball Greats and Their Facial Hair

I looked up some of the famous baseball players of the 20th century and made lists of those who had facial hair and those who did not.  Here is what I found.

         Clean-shaven players                                          Players with facial hair
            Honus Wagner
            Babe Ruth
            Lou Gehrig
            Sandy Koufax
            Mickey Mantle
            Joe DiMaggio
            Jackie Robinson
            Peewee Reese
            Yogi Berra
            Ted Williams
            Hank Aaron
            Roberto Clemente

You can see where I'm going here.  Things have changed in the new millenium.

Baseball Facial Hair in the 21st Century -- Team and Individual

The Boston Red Sox, winners of the 2013 World Series, have been for years a team whose members were known for a great variety and amount of facial hair.

Here is a picture of some of the team members last year.

As the Series approached, many Boston fans were reported to be growing beards of their own to boost the team's prospects.

Only one member of the 2013 Red Sox team, pitcher Koji Uehara, declined to grow a beard or mustache.  (Nobody seemed to hold this against him, however, perhaps because he turned in the best season ever recorded by a Boston reliever.)

Kevin Youkilis on the Red Sox
Johnny Damon on the Red Sox


Here are two examples
of the transformations in a
pair of former Red Sox players' looks before and after   they were traded to the New
Kevin Youkilis the Yankee
Johnny Damon the Yankee
York Yankees, a club not known for having bearded players.

This suggests that a certain amount of beard has for some time been part of players' self-identification as part of the Red Sox organization, but not for
the Yankees.

The day after the Series clincher, it was reported that several Red Sox team members shaved, or at least trimmed their lush beards, no doubt causing barbers all over New England to heave sighs of relief.

Brian Wilson

Above is Brian Wilson earlier in his pitching career, when he was a member of the San Francisco Giants.  The Giants weren't famed for facial hair, as the Red Sox were.  Wilson adopted the look, including dying his beard several shades darker than his natural hair, as a personal expression of his individuality.

Fans in San Francisco were comfortable with this, especially after his performance as the team closer in 2010 helped the Giants win the World Series that year.

His look was so unusual that it naturally attracted attention.  Fans wore beard masks to games and created a facebook site called "Brian Wilson's Beard."

Wilson also was an early adopter of the Faux Hawk, discussed earlier on this blog, but with his own signature variation of ever-longer hair.  His look continues to stand out as he plays for his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Another individual baseballer with a big beard is Josh Reddick, the right fielder for the Oakland Athletics  He too has a facebook site named for his facial hair.  No Faux Hawk, though.

Josh Reddick

No comments:

Post a Comment