Friday, July 19, 2013
Let's play...'stache or no 'stache?
For whatever reason, baseball and facial hair seem to be intertwined.
The sport isn't just our country's National Pastime. Thanks to the efforts of past hirsute heroes, it's become the facial hair National Pastime as well.
I can't name any famous mustaches from the annals of football or basketball. I could probably give you a couple hockey ones.
Yet, off the top of my head, I can probably rattle off a couple dozen famous baseball 'staches. At the least.
For most ballplayers, facial hair isn't an immediate thing. Some go long periods of time before sporting a 'stache. Many, as you'll see, probably should've never grown them in the first place.
So, in honor of baseball's fine (and not-so-fine) facial hair history, we're going to play a little game called...
'Stache or no 'stache?
Without the efforts of the "Swingin' A's" clubs of the '70s, such a post may not have even been possible. One could very well argue that Rollie Fingers was the game's facial hair forefather.
His famous handlebar look paved the way for many a 'stache in the years to come.
So, in the case of Rollie Fingers, is it 'stache...
...or no 'stache?
I doubt there's much of an argument here.
The legendary 'stache wins out.
Without his famous handlebar, Rollie Fingers looks like some kind of alien. I still can't get used to shots from his early Oakland days.
Look at that clean upper lip.
It's just not right.
'Stache or no 'stache?
Another easy one.
'Stache, of course.
Rich Gossage was a clean-shaven, wide-eyed young hurler for the White Sox in the 1970's. Goose Gossage, though, was the bad-ass, mustachioed, fireballing reliever that wants to kill whoever snapped that shot for his '86 Topps issue.
In terms of sheer juxtaposition, these may well be the greatest cards I've ever scanned side by side for this blog.
I've heard people refer to Chuck Finley's facial hair as a "Chuck 'stache".
I'm not sure how long he sported the look, but I'd have to guess it was fairly brief. That '88 Topps card is the only Finley I own that features his foray into the world of facial hair.
So, Chuck 'stache, or no Chuck 'stache?
It's a tough one, but I have to go with no Chuck 'stache.
The guy on the left looks like he wants to sell me insurance.
We haven't seen as much great facial hair in recent years.
For better or worse, though, "The Beard" has emerged as arguably the most memorable look in the last decade or so.
Originally, I took notice of the pre-beard Brian Wilson because he shared the same name as one of the greatest musical innovators in history. (Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, for you non-classic rock people.)
Now, I simply know him as "The Beard". I'll be interested to see the fate of his marmot/facial hair if/when he makes a return to the bigs.
So, Brian Wilson...
Marmot or no marmot?
I'll say marmot. It certainly did a wonder for the guy's career.
I'd probably still know him as a Beach Boy namesake had that thing not burst onto the baseball scene.
These days, Don Mattingly is the clean-shaven manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During his playing days, though, he was primarily known as the mustachioed first baseman for the Bronx Bombers.
Since I don't own many of his earlier cards, I didn't think I had anything that featured "Donny Baseball" without his signature 'stache.
Apparently, I'd forgotten about my recently-acquired '91 Studio Mattingly, the only one I own that shows him sans-mustache.
While not quite on the level of Mr. Fingers, the former first baseman looks, well...wrong without his famous facial hair.
So, 'stache or no 'stache?
With Don Mattingly, it's definitely 'stache.
We close things out with probably the easiest 'stache or no 'stache contributor.
Okay, suited-up, baseball juggling Ryne Sandberg...
No 'stache, Ryno.
For the love of God, no 'stache.