April 13, 2011
The recent release of our Dennis Eckersley Fathead reminded us that the overzealous mustache is as large a part of baseball as the stitching on the ball and the blades of grass in the outfield. All three are taken for granted, but without them, the sport wouldn’t be the same. Rollie Fingers. Keith Hernandez. Don Mattingly. Incredible MLB players, impeccable mustaches. Sure, a new season means a lot of clean shaven faces, but we can still admire seasons past while we wait for what’s to come.
After a less than eventful four years with the New York Yankees – a $40 million investment that garnered only a handful of starts for the oft injured MLB pitcher – Pavano has revived his career to be a solid starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins. Accompanying him last season through this resurrection was a once small painter’s brush mustache (click here to see it) that grew into a full-on Groucho Marx (see the late-season mustache here). Bloggers both chastised and championed his efforts, but after the Twins lost to the Yankees in the ALDS, the mustache was no more. Will he duplicate his facial hair efforts from last year? Or up himself? Pass the torch to someone else?
Words can’t even begin to describe the awesomeness Zavada’s mustache projects. A quick Google image search returns hundreds of pictures of the MLB player with one of two styles – the upward handlebar thinning toward the outer parts of the lip (a la Rollie Fingers — click here to see it) or the more traditionally intimidating chevron (see it there). Double mustache points for sporting the two separate looks. Is the Rollie handlebar his formal wear, and the chevron ‘stache his business casual? From a career standpoint, Zavada may be a marketing genius. If it wasn’t for the ‘stache, no one would know the name Clay Zavada. He’s currently in AAA after a 2009 stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks and a 2010 season eliminated by Tommy John surgery.
Wedge’s walrus mustache, my personal favorite, is storied amongst baseball fans. During his coaching stint with the Cleveland Indians, the team made it within one game of the 2007 World Series only to fall to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS Championship. The next season saw a slow start and an ultimately disappointing season. The more conventional minded fans pointed toward the high expectations on a follow up performance for a still young team, or a poor pitching staff, but some suffering Clevelanders, confused and hungry for a winner, blamed Wedge’s new-found lip hair. How dare they think a mustache of such prowess would cause harm to their city, but hey, if true, that would be one powerful ‘stache. Wedge had the same look as an MLB player, though, so I highly doubt its impact on the team’s performance. The Mariners are obviously not put off by it, having signed Wedge for the 2011 season (see his current mustache here).
Another walrus mustache from a long time MLB professional. Like Wedge, Ron Washington has stuck with the shrub through the majority of his playing and coaching career. Right now he’s at the top after a surprise trip to the 2010 World Series for his Texas Rangers and a hot start to the 2011 season. There’s even a little kid out there that dressed like Washington for Halloween! How awesome is that? (See Washington and the kid here.)
Are all the years of mustache bravado boiling over into a winning explosion the size of Texas? I say yes, and for this one short paragraph, what I say is fact.
Not the singer/songwriter for the Beach Boys, but the maverick closer for the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Including Wilson is kind of cheating, so we’ll refer to this as an honorable mention. He doesn’t only have a mustache, but a full beard. Combine the black beard (that matches the uniforms but not the hair on top of his head), the crazy look in his eyes, and the cannon for an arm, and you have one of the best MLB pitchers in the game. Let’s hope the young Wilson continues the mustached-beard mayhem through a long career (see his hairy face here).
These mustache veterans are only the tip of the iceberg. As the 162 game season slides into summer and creeps into the fall, players get restless. Lots of days on the road lead to lots of shenanigans and creativity, often in the form of wild facial hair. Keep your eye out for new and innovative mustaches throughout the season. There are always a few trend setters, and you never know, we may witness the next great facial hair fad since mutton chop sideburns.