We all know about George Steinbrenner’s facial hair policy. When George first came over to the Yankees in 1973, the Yankees were standing for the National Anthem, (with their caps removed) and he said that the players hair was too long for his standards. He sent a message to Ralph Houk demanding that these players hair must be trimmed immediately.
The rule was that no male player, coach, or executive may wear any facial hair except for a mustache. They could also grow sideburns or mutton chops. The players hair was not allowed to be worn below the collar. This rule still stands today and it is one of the many unique and unusual things related to the Yankees.
Here are some of the incidents over the years involving facial hair: (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
The first such occurence happened during the 1973 home opener against the Indians. When the Yankees players, caps removed, were standing at attention for the National Anthem, Steinbrenner, in the owner’s box next to the New York dugout, noticed that the hair on several of them was too long for his standards. Not knowing the players’ names, he wrote down the uniform numbers of the offenders, who included Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Sparky Lyle and Roy White, and had the list, along with the demand that their hair be trimmed immediately, delivered to Houk. The order was reluctantly relayed to the players.
In 1983, at Steinbrenner’s behest, Yogi Berra ordered Goose Gossage to remove a beard he was growing. Gossage responded by shaving away the beard but leaving a thick exaggerated mustache extending down the upper lip to the jaw line, a look Gossage still sports to this day.
The most infamous incident involving facial hair occurred in 1991. Although Steinbrenner was suspended, the Yankee management ordered Don Mattingly, who was then sporting a longish or mullet-like hair style, to get a hair cut. When Mattingly refused he was benched. This led to a huge media frenzy with reporters and talk radio repeatedly mocking the team. The WPIX broadcasting crew of Phil Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer, and Tom Seaver lampooned the policy on a pregame show with Rizzuto playing the role of a barber sent to enforce the rule. Mattingly would eventually be reinstated. Coincidentally, The Simpsonsepisode “Homer at the Bat,” which was filmed earlier that year, included Mattingly as a guest star who is suspended from play for the same reason despite having normal-length hair. In 1995, Mattingly again ran afoul of the policy when he grew a goatee. Steinbrenner publicly criticized him for it and Mattingly eventually trimmed it to a mustache. Mattingly is now clean-shaven as a coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers although the Dodgers do not have a facial hair policy.
David Wells occasionally wore a goatee and informed the media he would be willing to pay any fine to do so.