We’re with George Steinbrenner on this one: baseball players should maintain a conservative, athletic appearance on the field.

Just as a physician might second-guess the notion of spray painting his untamed beard with discarded motor oil, so too should the ambassadors of baseball consider their appearance and alter that appearance when it resembles that of an Exxon Valdez-afflicted pelican.

Steinbrenner’s rule was as follows: All players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar. Long sideburns and “mutton chops” are not specifically banned.

The rule was written in 1973 when, during the National Anthem, Steinbrenner was particularly displeased with the sloppy appearance of:

Thurman Munson

Bobby Murcer

Sparky Lyle

… and of course, the inimitable Roy White. A ballsy, 22-year-old Lou Pinella once tested the boss on the policy, noting that Jesus Christ had long hair and a beard, so why couldn’t he? Steinbrenner pointed to a small pond beyond the left field fence, and said:

“You see that pond? Walk across that pond and you can have a beard and long hair.”

—C.B.S.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • C. Brian Smith