Fans are Divided on Yankees Facial Hair Policy

By WILLIAM BOLOGNA
On March 22, 2017

The New York Yankees are the most successful team in professional sports history with 27 World Series Championships. For the Yankees, along with success, comes class. Team policy mandates that “all players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar.” The policy was enacted in 1973 by former club owner George Steinbrenner. Following his death in 2010, the Steinbrenner family was adamant that the Yankees continue to enforce this policy in order to protect George’s legacy as the Yankees former owner.

“I like my hair, but I love playing for this organization more,” said Yankees top prospect Clint Frazier. Frazier, 22, called his hair and the uproar surrounding it a “distraction” said it was “time for it to be cut.” While many applaud the young athlete for abiding by the rules of his organization, Frazier’s trip to the barbershop opened up the discussion for the possible abolishment of the Yankees “clean cut” policy.

While some fans like the policy, others say it is too “old-school” and it could divert players from wanting to come to New York. When asked about potentially playing for the Yankees someday, star pitcher David Price told FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, “I wouldn't sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that's old-school baseball. I was born in '85. That's not for me. That's not something I want to be a part of.” 

On the contrary, some people, such as Yankees play-by-play announcer Michael Kay, find the policy to be “cool” and “unique,” as he described it on his radio show on ESPN 98.7. Kay described seeing the players clean cut as “nostalgic.”

When and if the Yankees decide to abolish this policy, where will they draw the line? What will be their breaking point? A potential future run at Bryce Harper has struck up controversy. Michael Kay said on his radio show, “nobody from the Yankees has said this; [but] I believe that when all this money comes off, they’re going to go after Bryce Harper hard. But I wonder if that’s going to be the seismic breaking point about beards. Because I think Bryce Harper would have a hard time shaving his beard. And my recommendation to the Yankees: if you’re ever going to acquiesce on it, and Bryce Harper is your stated goal within the organization, change it now so it doesn’t look like you gave in for one guy. Because he’ll be resented by people.” Kay’s co-host, Don LaGreca, agreed in saying that changing the rule just for Harper would be “placing him on a pedestal” and “at the top of the list (of all-time Yankees).”

In the past, not even star players like Randy Johnson and Johnny Damon were considered “too good for the rule” as they too cut their hair once joining the Yankees. It will be interesting to see if a shot at acquiring Bryce Harper be enough for the Yankees to break on this rule or if he too be forced to succumb to the regulations set forth by Steinbrenner in ’73 if he chooses to sign with the Yankees.

wbologna@ramapo.edu

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