The Best of the Worst Hair on the Mound
In July of 1973, MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn issued a stern order to Pittsburg Pirates starting pitcher Dock Ellis, demanding that he cease and desist wearing curlers on the field during batting practice. True to his outspoken and controversial form, Ellis added several more every day for the rest of his road trip, stating that he simply “did not play good unless he looked good.”
One can appreciate Commissioner Kuhn’s concern: few positions in professional sports receive as much air time as major league pitchers. As such, when hurlers significantly stray from the Steinbrenner look, America takes notice.
To that end, in honor of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in 10 days, we present part one of a season-long series on grooming pastimes in America’s pastime.
Best Pregame Ritual: Dock Ellis
In addition to curlers, Ellis was also known to carry onto the field whatever intoxicating elements happened to still be lingering in his body from the night before. Case in point: on June 12, 1970, he threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD.
The Greasiest Dude on the Hill: Ross Grimsley
After being scolded by Reds manager Sparky Anderson for corresponding with a witch who had been sending him good luck charms, Grimsley was unceremoniously shipped off to the Orioles after 1973 because he refused to comply with Cincinnati’s conservative grooming rules. But the mop was not simply a matter of aesthetics: in 1977 Grimsley was accused of throwing “spitballs” by Yankees manager Billy Martin, who was convinced he’d lathered his hair in Vaseline. As it turns out, though, Grimsley hadn’t showered for nearly two weeks in an attempt to preserve an 11-day winning streak.
The Mullets: Randy Johnson/Rod Beck/Pete Vuckovich
As long as there are pitchers, there will be mullets—and here we have three of the most impressive specimens to ever take the field. Vuckovich often complemented the look by sticking his tongue out at batters and fidgeting, twitching and, on more than one occasion, dry heaving on the mound.
Best Hair by a Starter Who Cuddles with His Guitar Beneath the Golden Gate Bridge: Barry Zito
Never has a photo captured a pitcher’s style more accurately than this delicate, wavy shot of San Francisco’s perennial disappointment.
Best Hair in a Nude Photo Shoot: Yu Darvish
The state of Texas looks to have imported its first Japanese/Iranian sex symbol. While many consider Darvish to be the best pitcher to come out of Japan, it’s yet to be seen how the good ol’ boys in Dallas will respond to their ace’s penchant for bare-ass modeling.
Worst Hair on Same Staff: Tim Lincecum/Brian Wilson
For several seasons now, Giants fans have had to come to terms with the fact that their number-one starter and lights-out closer look like a Pert Plus commercial and the latter, more bedraggled half of Beavis and Butt-Head.
Let’s play ball, gentlemen.
- — C. Brian Smith