Spring is in the air, and baseball season is less than a week away. But few fans often take the time to ponder some of the game’s greatest players- those that helped to make the sport what it is today. At first mention, this would cause many to reflect on players that have affected the way the game is played. Today, however, we are going to take a look at the way the game was worn, specifically with regards to facial hair. Incidentally, there seems to be a positive correlation between a player’s ability and the awesomeness of his mustache. And without further ado, below is a list of the baseball’s mustached all-star team:
1st Base – Don Mattingly 1982-1995
Donnie Baseball never won a World Series, having retired from baseball in 1995, just one year before the Yankees’ most recent streak of championships. He is one of the most well-known first basemen of all time, and recorded a .307 batting average over the course of his fourteen season career, all of which he played for New York. The Hitman is not only the modern prototype for the hitting first basemen, but he has also inspired younger players such as Jason Giambi (2008), to bring the mustache back to baseball.
2nd Base – Glen Hubbard 1978-1989
Who wouldn’t want this guy anchoring their in-field? Hubbard was a known bad-ass, and was not afraid of snakes or base runners barreling into second at full-speed. It should come as no surprise that he holds the Braves team record for turning double plays. Recently, Hubbard has gone the way of the buffalo, and now wears his beard in a goatee style – but it is not too late to change.
ShortStop – Tim Foli 1970-1985
In the late 1970s, cocaine was in, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were a world championship team. Crazy Horse, as Foli was known, was not only one of the most reliable shortstops during his time, he was also one of the most difficult hitters to strike out in baseball. And, his shades were not a bad touch either.
3rd Base – Mike Schmidt 1972-1989
Pete Rose has famously gone on record saying that he would do anything to have Mike Schmidt’s physique. But it is unclear whether or not this included Schmidt’s famous push broom lip-warmer. Perhaps the best hitting third basemen of all time* (non steroid; A-Rod was really a Shortstop), Schmidt and his mustache were/are not something to mess with.
RF – Dave Winfield 1973 – 1995
One of the game’s truest athletes, Dave Winfield’s Hall of Fame career spanned twenty three seasons and six teams. The twelve-time all-star shares the distinction of being one of two players to have killed a bird, while putting the ball into play with Randy Johnson (who did it while pitching in New York). But it is his mustache that we are most impressed with…that and his 465 career home runs and 3,110 hits.
CF – Oscar Gamble 1969 – 1985
Gamble was better known for his insanely large afro than his hitting, but during his long career in the league he was an offensive threat to be reckoned with. Discovered by Negro League great Buck O’Neil, Gamble is noted for being one of the few players to retire with more walks than strikeouts. It is also rumored that his hats had to be custom made to accommodate his hair, which should not be that hard to believe.
LF – Joe Rudi 1967-1981
Joe Rudi is known for two things: for making an incredible, leaping, and game-saving catch in the 1972 World Series, and for his meth-lab mustache. Rudi has since parlayed his on-field success to a career in real estate, where he continues to rock the mouth mange. In recent years, Rudi lost the chops much to our chagrin.
Catcher – Thurman Munson 1969-1979
Thurmon Munson died tragically at the young age of 32, in a crash while attempting to land his Cessna. He was an all-star seven out of his eleven seasons, and was part of a Yankees team that won two world championships. Well-liked by the fans and team ownership, he was one of two Yankees (the other being Gossage) that Steinbrenner would allow to wear a fu Manchu during the time. What player in their right mind would charge the plate with this wall of muscle and face hair guarding home?
Starting Pitcher – Randy Johnson 1988-
Before the Big Unit was a dove-killing ace, he was just another young pitcher with a wicked arm and a mustache. Johnson’s trademark ‘stache has stayed relatively unchanged for most of his twenty years in the league, and he has complimented it with mullets of different lengths. During his tenure, he has noted that his upper lip plays an important part of his intimidating visage. His being 6’10” probably doesn’t hurt, either.
Setup Man/Middle Reliever – Rollie Fingers 1968-1985
Perhaps the most famous of all mustaches in professional sports, Rollie Fingers’ was originally grown in order to get a $300 bonus from then-Philadelphia Athletics owner, Charles Finley. In the early 1970s, few teams allowed their players to wear facial hair, and the eccentric A’s owner actually encouraged them. When he later was sent to the Brewers (a no-mustache team, at the time), Fingers denied any claims to the media that he would ever shave his mustache, “…simply to keep on playing baseball.”
Closer – Goose Gossage 1972-1994
Gossage is popularly credited as having developed the modern ‘closer’ position. This of course refers to the relief pitcher brought in for the final inning or two, when the game is most on the line. He is also credited for bringing the fu Manchu into baseball, although others wore similar mustaches at the time. This Hall of Famer continues to wear his trademark handlebar to this day.
Manager – Billy Martin Player 1950-1961 Coach 1969-1979, ’83, ’85, ’88
Billy Martin is well-known for being the Yankees on-again, off-again manager during their league domination in the late seventies. Like Winfield, Martin was continually feuding with Yankees’ owner Steinbrenner, and he proved both an effective second basemen and manager during his many years with the organization. This hard-drinker’s animated dust-kicking altercations with umpires are considered the archetypal coach-official skirmish, and his mustached leadership has inspired contemporary club leaders such as Jim Leyland to take up the torch.
DH – Reggie Jackson – Mr. October 1967-1987
Truthfully, Mr. October seldom played in a DH role, and was a solid right fielder during his long career. Though Jackson was be a close second to Winfield defensively, his hitting prowess – especially during the playoffs – was unprecedented. If any manager were to have both players on a team at the same time, it is likely that they’d put this five-time World Series winner (and Lionel Richie doppelganger) in a position where he’d be able to concentrate entirely on his hitting. Imagine if the MLB still had players that wore the mustache-sunglasses combo – it would be an entirely different game, at least style-wise.