Text written by Albert Kilchesty
Hair Ball Brand
Viewers of games played during the 2015 post-season were treated to an amazing display of flowin’ growin’ locks and beards. Young New York Mets hurler Jacob deGrom looked like a time-traveling Kiss fan from the 1970s while Houston pitcher Dallas Keuchel reminded one of a lost lumberjack. Fashion statements such as theirs were unthinkable in earlier decades. This new flock of the unsheared owe a debt to the wooly wonders of yesterday, who broke free of the fold and drove the revolution in hairstyles. Oscar Gamble (left) had a solid career as a hitter, but is now remembered exclusively for the astonishing Afro he grew in the 1970s. It was so large that his batting helmet frequently popped off. And when a baseball cap did stay on Oscar’s head, his hair protruded such that it produced an unintended Mickey Mouse effect. Controversial pitcher Dock Ellis (center), who purportedly tossed a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD, was photographed prior to a game in 1973 with curlers in his hair. Ellis claimed that straightening his hair with curlers helped him sweat more, thereby allowing him to “load up” before throwing a spitball. The wind-blown tresses of Boston centerfielder Johnny Damon (right) became an emblem for “The Idiots,” the 2004 Red Sox team that overcame the Curse of the Bambino to notch, at long last, a World Series victory.
Grooming styles in baseball have always reflected aspects of male fashion in vogue during the era in which players lived. Facial hair was common among ballplayers prior to the early 1900s, for example, but the clean-shaven look dominated for more than six decades after. Stanley “Frenchy” Bordagary (top left) sported a moustache during spring training in 1936, but removed it after his manager, Casey Stengel, forced him to do so. Frenchy then blamed his ensuing slump on the shave. The public was thus spared the sight of a Parisian pimp strolling to the plate. When Charlie Finley, owner of the Oakland A’s, dreamed up a moustache day promotion during the 1972 season, he offered his players a small bonus if they grew one also. Relief pitcher Rollie Fingers (top center) sported a handlebar variety for the event and liked his Police Gazette mien so much that it became his signature look. At bottom right beaucoup bearded Bruce Sutter, fireman for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s, pays hirsute homage to Amish farmers from his hometown of Lancaster, PA. Babe Ruth (bottom center) models a false beard to blend in with players on the barnstorming House of David team (see the painting “House of David Brand”). Be-goggled Montreal native Eric Gagne (bottom right) displays a beau-ideal goatee worn while a relief pitcher for the Dodgers in the 2000s.