Maybe it started with Brian Wilson and his “Fear the Beard” thing during the Giants 2010 run to the World Series championship. Or maybe it took off when Johnny Damon proclaimed the Boston Red Sox “idiots” in 2004. Perhaps it went as far back as the early 1980’s when Bruce Sutter was traded to the Cardinals.
Regardless where its baseball roots lie, the beard has seemingly taken over baseball, especially in the bullpen (except in the Bronx).
The beard is single-handedly trying to turn baseball into the Brooklyn of sports – a bunch of wannabe hipsters – and those blessed enough with the ability to sprout bad-ass growth have taken full advantage of putting it on display. I’m not talking goatee or any scruff, I’m talking full on, no holds barred beards, here.
In other sports, the beard makes timely appearances. In the NHL, there’s always been the “playoff beard”. In the NFL, there are also guys who unleash their beards during the playoffs. Hell, even the NBA is celebrating the beard (see: James Harden). But rarely does the beard get much publicity during the regular season.
1970’s and 1980’s: Mustache > Beard
2012: Beard > Mustache
Gone are the days of the mustache, but don’t tell John Axford or Derek Holland that. Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, these dudes were men, man. Don Mattingly rocked the shit out of his ‘stache. Dennis Eckersley was known as much for his mustache as his sidearm delivery. Hulk Hogan’s mustache should be in a Hall of Fame somewhere, but I digress. The mustache was worn by some of the biggest names in baseball in the 70’s and 80’s.
It seems like you can be a nobody and sport one. And it seems the time of game you’re most likely to see them are from the sixth inning on.
There are, however, plenty of guys who shut it down on the mound and wear awesome beards.
Brian Wilson, for all intents and purposes, is the the modern-day re-inventor of the beard. Jason Motte sports a wild beard and backs it up with 100 mph heat. Chris Perez rocks a mean face forest, too. But let’s face it, these are names we’ve heard before. You can even go as far as Heath Bell and his chin-strap looking beard.
What about Tim Collins out in KC? Or Sergio Romo, a protégé of Brian Wilson, out in San Fran?
Jon Rauch, he’s got himself a nicely manicured stubbly beard, but he can call it whatever he wants. I’m more intrigued by his neck tattoo. Oh, and I dare anyone to say anything questionable or bad about Jon Rauch to Jon Rauch.
Beards, they’re not just for the playoffs anymore.