Let's face it (no pun intended), facial hair has always been a part of sports.
But perhaps no sport (other than hockey's playoff beards) has embraced the hairy visage more than the Great American Pastime, where it's become more than just facial hair: It's an identifying trademark.
Be honest, when you think of Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley and Brian Wilson, what do you think of? You probably think of their accolades and escapades on the field, but you also think of the handlebar (Fingers), the thick mustache/mullet combo (Eckersley) and the beard that's probably the definition of "winning" (Wilson).
So with the MLB season now underway, it's time to take a look at some of the best facial hair in MLB history. This is the place for some of the most bizarre, out of left field and just epic looks and designs we've ever seen.
Without further ado, here's the list.
To most, he's known as Pete Vuckovich, a journeyman who spent 11 years in the majors with four teams.
But to a legion of fans, he's known better as the New York Yankees slugger who "led the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair."
Yes, Vuckovich became known for portraying Haywood, the feared hitter for the Yanks in the first Major League. Indians manager Lou Brown was also a solid candidate for the spot, but when Haywood is part of one of Harry Doyle's (Bob Uecker) better one-liners, how can he not make the list?
OK, so he's a mascot.
But still, Mr. Redlegs has been a symbol of the Cincinnati Reds for years, so much so that the current adaptation of the mascot has the symbolic old-timey mustache. Because honestly, without it he just looks like Mr. Met on a treadmill.
In the grand scheme of facial hair on this list, Fetters doesn't have the most impressive goatee on the list.
But the facial hair was just part of the whole package with Fetters, who has a unique part in baseball lore. Pitchers have always been an eclectic bunch, and Fetters definitely made the list with his trademark huffing before quickly snapping his head to home plate.
By the time his Hall of Fame career was winding down, The Wizard had toned down his look.
But when Smith entered the league, he embraced the style of the day in baseball, which meant a somewhat-underrated full goatee complete with afro. Not surprisingly, the facial hair matched his playing style as one of the best around.
For some of the players on this list, the facial hair became part of the persona. For Gagne, the full goatee along with the wild hair sticking out of the cap and the goggles became the persona.
And from 2002-2004, there were few closers in the game who were more dominant than Gagne. All you need to know about him (other than the 84 consecutive saves) is his entrance video at Dodger Stadium: An outline of his face, complete with the goggles and beard, with two simple words: "Game Over."
Jim Joyce might've seen himself put onto the spotlight last year for one of the most infamous blown calls in recent memory, but the story between him and Armando Galarraga became one of the more heart-warming moments of the sports year.
But before all that, he was just a seasoned MLB umpire with a pretty sweet Goose Gossage-esque handlebar. He may not have a country album like Cowboy Joe West, but he's managed to have a pretty strong career.
Schmidt rose to prominence during the late 1970s and 1980s, when long hair and bushy mustaches were the norm throughout baseball. Michael Jack was no different.
His hair and mustache were much more prominent earlier in his career, but his mustached remained throughout his career, as he became one of the best power hitters in the game. And eventually he rose to his rightful place as a Hall of Famer and spokesman for the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.
What does it say about the closer position when Jones is 14th all-time on the career saves list, yet has an ERA just a smidge below four (3.97 to be exact)?
Still, the guy made a long career for himself as a closer and kept his fu manchu during his career. Besides, the guy had to be doing something right. Very few people have a Facebook group dedicated to their mustaches like Jones does.
Jason Giambi has always been one on the cutting edge of facial hair technology.
There was the long hair and goatee during the Oakland days that made Giambi a millionaire, then the clean-shaven days with the Yankees that brought with it all the mess of the BALCO investigation and some serious health problems.
Then, of course, there was the 'stache. The one that had the American Mustache Institute (yes, that's an institute) celebrating Giambi. Let's face it, Giambi has had some of the best years of his career when he's rocked the face salad.
John Axford is a relative newcomer onto the scene, but he made a huge entrance last season, busting into the majors and becoming a cult hero in Milwaukee.
Some would think it's the the 2.48 ERA and the 24 saves he had last season for the Brewers, replacing the legendary Trevor Hoffman. But the throwback 'stache combined with the mini soul-patch might also have something to do with it.
Boggs was never flashy as a player, but that trademark batting style and that '80s mustache served Boggs well through his entire Hall of Fame career.
Red Sox fans will remember him in his prime and Yankees fans will remember him on a horse taking a victory lap after the 1996 World Series. Both will remember that he almost went into the Hall of Fame as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray.
He was no Mike Commodore or Lanny McDonald (although in the annals of facial hair history, very few can come close to those two), but the red hair of Yount and his stylish fu manchu (notice a pattern here) were his trademarks throughout his career as one of the better offensive shortstops in the 1980s.
Blyleven finally received the call to the Hall this past winter, though it probably wasn't because of his striking similarity to Dr. Tim Watley (a.k.a. Bryan Cranston).
Still, the longtime Twins pitcher who finally will be going into the Hall of Fame in July sported some pretty strong full-face beards during his days in the majors. In fact, he still sports the goatee now as a TV analyst for the Twins, although it's a lot thinner these days.
The Boston Red Sox have been no strangers to facial hair during this century, as the Sox have spawned some of the most memorable looks in recent memory.
Perhaps hidden in that has been Youkilis, who not only has become one of the better hitters in the game, but also had some interesting looks during his career. He's sort of calmed down his look this season, but he's brought out some memorable ones before, including the pictured mustache/beard/sideburns/shaved head combo.
Gamble's career numbers were never outstanding, but the journeyman outfielder made more waves around the league for his afro and sideburns.
Still, Gamble had a nice career during the 1970s, plus he made those angled sideburns looked good. Any mustache and/or beard just added to the lore.
Taylor Tankersley (try saying that name three times fast) hadn't appeared in the major leagues since 2008 when he was recalled last season, so suffice to say it was surprising to see him appear with the handlebar mustache.
According to MLB.com, Tankersley had to trim his mustache to meet the Marlins' facial hair policy. But the 'stache received a ringing endorsement from then-manager Fredi Gonzalez.
"I like it," Gonzalez told MLB.com "It met regulation."
What is there really to say?
With that mustache, the hair and the collar poking out from under the jersey, Stanhouse looked like he just came back from partying with John Travolta at Studio 54. It somewhat served him well, as he compiled a 3.84 ERA in nine big league seasons.
Before he unfortunately passed away in 2007, Beck earned a reputation for having been one of the better closers of his time. He was a three-time All Star, a Rolaids Relief Man of the Year winner, and he's 25th on the all-time saves list. To put in perspective, Beck finished with just 16 fewer saves than Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.
He was also known for his trademark mustache, usually paired with his mullet during the prime of his career.
Spiezio made a career for himself as a bat for hire, but when you think of him, it's hard not to think of the soul patch he rocked as a St. Louis Cardinal.
It's also hard to think that he couldn't have made it any more unique then when he dyed it Cardinal Red. Either that, or he spilled some Big Red soda on it and just never was able to get it out.
I mentioned that, for some of the players on this list, the facial hair was part of a persona. And with Reggie Jackson, that definitely was the case.
When you think of Reggie Jackson, you think of the curly hair, the mustache and those aviator sunglasses that hid one of the most talented baseball players around. He was the straw that stirred the drink, Mr. October, and, of course, the man who was foiled by Enrico Pallazo.
Pitchers have always been a strange bunch, and in his prime, there were few stranger than Bill Lee.
He never talked back to the ball like Mark "The Byrd" Fidrych, but Lee had his own unique style. He was outspoken, he was out there and, in his older days, he had a pretty nice full beard with the Expos. Already, all you need to know about Lee is that he's still pitching in celebrity games to date.
What else would you expect from "The Spaceman".
When Werth started growing out the beard last offseason, it was just more for Phillies' fans to love about him. Remember, this is the guy who went from a failed prospect to a star hitting behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
But Werth had an up-and-down 2010, during which he closely resembled WWE star Edge near the end, and took the big paycheck from Washington in the offseason. And when he signed, the Damon-esque beard went with it.
The tall, lanky build, the frazzled mullet, the scraggly mustache, it was all part of the package with Randy Johnson.
When he stared down the batter as he got his sign, he just looked intimidating . And that's before he reared back and fired that fastball that had John Kruk ducking for cover and had birds setting a cruising altitude over America's baseball fields.
One of the best handlebars mustaches you're ever going to see on a baseball field, Fasano usually had one of the better face salads wherever he played.
The only time he deviated from the handlebars was his brief stint with the Yankees, where he had to go a modified Giambino to fit the Yankees' no-beards policy.
Very few times was Bagwell without a goatee during his career, but there was a time in 2000 before the Astros opened Minute Maid Park (then Enron Field) when Bagwell grew out the goatee.
What resulted was perhaps the equivalent of growing a shrub or a hedge on your chin. After a while, Bagwell eventually trimmed it down and returned to the old goatee. Of course, by that time, the damage was done and the Astros missed the playoffs.
In the same vein as Bagwell, Johnson has rocked the bushy beard a few times during his career.
And like Bagwell, he's definitely had it thicker and longer than he does in this photo. Now apparently he's gone to the shorter look you can design. Like this choice.
There's just so much to love about this mustache from the Diamondbacks' reliever.
First of all, Zavada's mustache is a strong combo of old-time baseball and Old West sheriff. He looks like he could play against Honus Wagner or be in a staredown with Clint Eastwood and Lee Majors. He's lost the little Fingers-esque curl that he sported during his lone big-league season, but here's hoping he can make it back to the majors as he battles back from Tommy John surgery.
Only on one team would the team's best player be threatened with a benching if he didn't shave his sideburns.
And sure enough, it happened in 1991 when Mattingly refused to cut his hair and manager Stump Merrill benched him, according to the New York Times. It was parodied in the classic "Homer At The Bat" episode of The Simpsons, and Mattingly eventually caved.
Of course, it summed up most of Mattingly's career that he was the lone star on a bunch of bad teams.
Dustin Hermanson proved two things to us. One, that players' careers don't have to skyrocket after they leave Montreal and that anybody can grow a goatee. But drawing designs into the goatee: that's unique.
Sure, it might look like a cinnamon bun on his chin, but that still takes some skill.
In his long career, the "Mad Hungarian" was another one of those bizarre pitches who became famous for his antics and his pre-pitch routine.
Then there was the fu manchu which, combined with the hair sticking out of the hat, was one of the wildest combinations we've ever seen on a baseball diamond. But he was another one of those who were forced to cut his hair.
This is from Paul Lukas, who writes the Uni Watch column for ESPN.com:
"Noted disciplinarian Vern Rapp is hired to manage the Cardinals, and promptly bans facial hair," Lukas wrote in a column back in 2008. "The new rule is particularly nettlesome to reliever Al Hrabosky, who'd credited his earlier success to his Fu Manchu 'stache and blames his ineffective '76 season on Rapp's whisker prohibition. Hrabosky is traded to the Royals in the subsequent offseason."
Isn't that how it always ends?
Everyone remembers the long hair and the beard that made him a cult icon in Boston.
The Captain Caveman (or whatever nickname you prefer for Damon's look) wasn't just a fashion statement, he also became one of the more beloved Red Sox and he became one of the symbols for the happy-go-lucky style that helped the Red Sox finally reverse the curse.
Of course, all that goodwill went away when he shaved the beard and cut the hair when he signed with the Yankees.
His hair might've thinned up top, but to this day Goose Gossage is still rocking the mustache he did during his playing days, when he was one of the most dominant relievers of his time.
It was there during his time in New York, it was there after he retired from baseball. And without a doubt, it's on his long-awaited and well-deserved plaque in Cooperstown.
Before Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, but after Goose, there was Eck. Dennis Eckersley, the starter who turned into an all-world closer and who was the closest thing to lights out during the 1980s.
In his prime as a closer from 1988-1992, Eckersley led the league in saves twice, three times posted an ERA lower than two and put up an unreal 0.61 ERA in 1990. He did that while still rocking the mullet and the bushy mustache, along with that devastating sidearm motion.
To his credit, Wilson has gone from a relatively unknown closer to one of the game's more marketable stars right now. Of course, having a devastating fastball and winning the World Series will do that, but Wilson started growing the beard last season, and he's completely embraced the persona.
Now there are commercials talking about his beard and a Charlie Sheen-esque aura about him and his beard, just without the tigerblood.
And I'm doubting fans will be asking for a refund after watching him either.
According to Paul Lukas on ESPN, who did an entire piece on hair in baseball as part of his Uni Watch column, Sutter didn't start growing his beard until he was traded to the Cardinals in 1981.
That of course morphed into the beard we all knew and loved from Sutter, as he became a dominant reliever with the Cardinals and Cubs while rocking the beard that would've made Paul Bunyan, Jeremiah Johnson and at least one of my college friends very proud.
Who else would it be at No. 1?
Fingers played for the Padres and Brewers at the end of his career, but he became a star with the Oakland Athletics during the late 1960s and 1970s. And it was in Oakland where he started to grow perhaps the most famous handlebar mustache in sports history.
It's not too bad that he eventually made the Hall of Fame too.