Even if you just caught the news stories about the World Series, it was obvious that the Boston Red Sox won while fielding one of the most hirsute collections of players ever. These weren’t wispy adolescent beards for the most part, but serious, luxuriant growths reminiscent of Grizzly Adams. Back in the 1980s, the unaccompanied mustache was the norm on the field, but today, they’re as rare as, well, as rare as razors in the Boston clubhouse.
The WSJ Beard Audit
Statistics and baseball go hand in hand, and you may wonder if anyone bothered to collect the numbers on facial hair in the 2013 season. They did. Geoff Foster of the Wall Street Journal determined that 58% of baseball players had some form of facial hair this year. Foster deliberately did not include the New York Yankees in his count, due to the long-time ban on facial hair (with the exception of the plain, unadorned mustache) that George Steinbrenner imposed back in the day. The team with the most prolific follicles was the Milwaukee Brewers, whose 72% facial hair rate was unable to keep them from having a lousy season.
Brian Wilson Refuses to Shave in Order to Play for the Yankees
Relief pitcher Brian Wilson underwent a second elbow surgery during the 2012 season, but recovered halfway through the 2013 season and signed on with the Dodgers, where he had an earned run average of 0.66. The New York Yankees knew they needed some help in the bullpen, and Wilson seemed like the right man for the job. However, because of the “no facial hair” rule, the Yankees lost out. Yankees GM Brain Cashman asked agent Dan Lozano about the possibility of Wilson signing on, but Lozano told him he was wasting his breath. Wilson wasn’t going to shave his impressive beard in order to play for the Yankees. “We could use bullpen help, but you can cross him off the list,” said Cashman.
New York Yankees Grooming Rules
A holdover from the Steinbrenner years, the Yankees’ facial hair and general grooming policy is straightforward. Except for neatly-trimmed Ned Flanders mustaches, no facial hair is allowed, and the hair on players’ heads cannot extend below the collar. Basically, if you can’t get away with a particular hair / beard configuration working in a bank, you can’t get away with it while playing for the Yankees. It may be 2013, and MLB may be as hairy as it’s ever been, but if you want to play for the Yankees, you need short hair and a clean-shaven chin, period.
What’s a Hirsute Yankee to Do?Facial hair density and growth assertiveness are very individual qualities, with some men only able to grow soft fluff well into their thirties and others developing serious five-o’clock shadow in their teens. Shaving multiple times per day is not unheard of for men with thick, dark facial hair, but that regimen can irritate skin, and adds yet another grooming chore to the day. Vaniqa is a topical cream that is made to slow the growth of facial hair. It was specifically tested and approved for use by women, but many doctors prescribe it off-label for men who want to tame their facial hair.
Vaniqa doesn’t remove hair, so regular shaving is still necessary, but it makes new hair grow in more slowly and with a finer texture. After 24 weeks of use, 58% of users in Vaniqa’s trials had positive results ranging from “some improvement” to “almost hair-free.” Although Vaniqa was designed for women, it isn’t hormonal, but rather inhibits action of an enzyme that enables hair growth. The enzyme, ornithine decarboxylase, is found in men and women, and men have used Vaniqa to control aggressive beard growth. Perhaps Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman should offer a tube of Vaniqa to his players who have a harder time maintaining a baby-smooth face.
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