There was a time when a ballplayer’s grooming habits actually did matter.
I’m thinking maybe the Eisenhower administration, right before those doggone mop-top, rock-n-roller kids from England came over and corrupted America’s youth — what with their songs about “holding hands” and “twisting” and “shouting.”
It was important then for a ballplayer/hero to represent a more wholesome America where chins were shaved close, hair was neatly parted, dinner was on the table by 6 p.m. and outfielders always hit the cutoff man. None of this me-first throwing guys out at home. None of this individualism. None of this personal expression.
And what was wrong with the Lawrence Welk Show anyway? That’s good entertainment! Long live the Beer Barrell Polka.
This was the era in which George Steinbrenner came up, so he can be forgiven for seeing the world through black-and-white-tinted glasses, famously enforcing upon the New York Yankees a grooming policy fit for a bank or private school: No facial hair — except for mustaches (mustaches are classy) — and no head hair below the collar.
The Yankees are carrying on with Steinbrenner’s policy and it just cost them a good player. Closer Brian Wilson, a free agent, made it clear he wouldn’t be shaving his famous beard and, according to reports, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, “Cross him off the list.”
Brian Wilson’s agent told Brian Cashman that Wilson won’t shave his beard. "Cross him off the list," Cashman said.
And no more of this rock music, either. Why, you can’t even make out the lyrics!
The Yankees are the last remaining vestige of Camelot in American sports. Michigan had a track-star quarterback with hair that flopped around outside his helmet.
Michigan! Nebraska hasn’t run the triple option in 10 years. The Boston Celtics have dancers now. The NFL routinely plays games in Europe. Most notably, the Red Sox just won a World Series with a whole slew of some of the most glorious beards on this planet.
Oh, but not the Yankees. There will be no baguettes served in the Yankee clubhouse. Just good ol’ American Wonderbread, with hand-churned butter from some Dust-Bowl farm.
What kind of message would it send — bearded baseball players?
No. No beards.
No Zach Galifianakis movies on flights, no ZZ Top in the clubhouse and no Brian Wilson in the bullpen. Get rid of those sideburns!