Grooming at ballpark becoming trend for baseball players
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Kevin Quackenbush's full beard needed a little attention considering he had gone since spring training in February without a trim.
Mark McGwire decided on the fly to get his hair cut upon arriving to work last week at AT&T Park, something unheard of during his old slugging days.
The San Diego Padres relief pitcher and his bench coach, Big Mac, only had to walk out of the visitor's clubhouse and down a set of stairs toward the dugout to duck into a room typically used for equipment storage and get spiffed up by Lara Albertsen long before first pitch.
''It's becoming a fad now that most places have it because hairstyles are a really in thing,'' McGwire said of ballpark grooming.
''All these players love to be styled when they take their helmet or hat off. That's the first time I've gotten one at the ballpark. I usually go to Sport Clips, it takes like five or 10 minutes and you get in and out. I needed a haircut and happened to be right here in San Francisco.''
Albertsen is a hairstylist based in the East Bay suburb of Danville. She shows up for the first game of each series to cut for interested players and coaches. Fittingly, given her recent clientele, her room has been named ''Big Mac Salon,'' complete with a photo of McGwire circa 1987-88 now hanging on the wall under a sign. He came in before the July 20 opener against the Giants.
Visiting clubhouse manager Abe Silvestri already knew Albertsen, and he realized she was perfect for the job because she's not a die-hard sports fan.
''McGwire said he wanted more attention paid to the cages. He said, `We got a darn powder room,''' Silvestri recalled. ''It's been cool. The reason I wanted her in here is she doesn't know any of these guys.''
Last Monday, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli stopped to grab his gear in the storage room when he came across Albertsen by chance and sat down in her chair for a quick trim.
''I was looking for my bats and I saw her over here,'' Cervelli said. ''I just want to clean up a little bit. We don't have a lot we can show because I've got a helmet and a mask. It's perfect. You don't have to worry and wake up and make an appointment.''
Others who have stopped by this season: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts - twice - for a haircut; Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner for some beard love; shaggy-haired Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom; and Marlins manager Don Mattingly, long past his days of sporting a mullet.
''Some of these guys get trimmed like once a week,'' McGwire said. ''Hairstyles are huge.''
In fact, Roberts said in a text message his ''do is overdue for a touch up.
''With the daily grind and few off days it's hard to carve out time for a haircut, literally the last thing on my mind,'' Roberts said. ''It's such a luxury and convenience having it available at the ballpark.''
Former lefty Vida Blue is open-minded about the idea even if he swears he never would have been caught doing it. He is happy to hear players care about appearance and looking professional.
''Why not?'' Blue said of getting a ballpark buzz. ''If it's there for you, take advantage of it. Some of these guys need to get a little trim. I like the beards but I like them neat. I don't like the old crusty looking stuff with the breadcrumbs from two weeks ago.''
There are signs in the clubhouse offering players on-site hair service, which Albertsen began this season. Payment is by tips.
''I wasn't planning on it,'' Quackenbush said. ''I saw the sign. She did a nice job. It's awesome. It's great for guys to get a haircut and get back out on the field.''
The same day on the other side, in the Giants' family room, San Francisco hitting coach Hensley Meulens got his hair cut by a Venezuelan named Oscar Mamber they have nicknamed ''The Crazy Barber'' - courtesy of Tigers reliever and countryman Francisco Rodriguez - because he travels around the league and even turned up at this month's All-Star Game in Miami to get everybody looking their best for baseball's summer classic.
''I needed one,'' Meulens said. ''It had been two months. It's convenient and it's comfort. I don't have time to run around for a barber shop.''
Appreciative Seattle ace Felix Hernandez once gifted $3,000 to San Diego-based Mamber, who has been cutting ballplayers' hair going on two decades.
''Everybody's asking about Oscar the Crazy Barber,'' San Diego outfielder Manuel Margot said.
Padres second baseman Jose Pirela, who had Albertsen give his `do a quick check last week, hollered in to Mamber while walking by before a game - ''The Crazy!''
Other venues also bring in barbers. Miami has a guy they just call ''Juice,'' according to Meulens.
Meanwhile, across San Francisco Bay in Oakland, outfielder Rajai Davis finds time for important pampering. He is receiving regular pedicures on his ''money makers,'' as he refers to his base-stealing-fast feet.
''I've got to take care of them and make sure they're feeling good,'' said Davis, whose feet used to become tender because there was too much moisture between his toes. ''If they're not feeling good, I've got to find out how to make them feel good.''
Ex-A's pitcher Blue keeps his head clean shaven, an every-other-day chore.
''I can't imagine that,'' Blue, who turned 68 on Friday, said of having his hair done at work. ''We probably would have thought of it as a distraction. For some people it's OK, but for me on game day I wouldn't talk to my teammates, I'm like, `Hey, stay away from me, I don't want to talk, I'm getting ready for the game.' That's a goofy left-handed pitcher, though.''
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is in the same camp. He won't get his spiky silver hair clipped at work - at least not yet.
''I'm old school and you just don't get a haircut at the ballpark,'' he said, laughing. ''But things have changed. That's why I'm not saying, `You can't do that,' or we can't have a guy. It's interesting.''
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